Cicada Killers

Biology & Reproduction

Cicada killers resemble yellow jackets but it is actually a type of wasp. The cicada killer earns its name from using an actual Cicada as food for its young. The wasp will dig a burrow in search of a cicada, and then begin nesting once one is found. The reproduction of cicada killers can be a little disturbing; the female wasp will sting a cicada and bring it back to her burrow. She’ll bring about one or two back to the burrow and lay an egg on one. The hatched egg will then feed on the cicada until it’s fully grown. Cicada Killers are not a colonizing bug, so they’ll only be found alone in a nesting site. They are also an overwintering bug. The larvae will grow in their burrows during the winter, pupate in spring, and around July to August it will leave the burrow as an adult. Only the females construct these burrows. Females are also the only ones who can sting, but won’t attack someone unless they’re threatened. Most people are stung by cicada killers when they step on them. Males will buzz around but cannot sting.


Nesting areas for cicada killers are usually in bare ground and sandy soil. Many of them will use the same general area for nesting. While burrowing, the females excavate a small amount of soil which can cause slight damage to lawns.


Cicada killers are considered very beneficial because they help reduce cicada populations. However, if there is someone in the home who has a bee or wasp allergy, control may be necessary. While only a professional can provide the proper control method, it’s best to eliminate bare-ground areas to discourage future nesting by the cicada killer.

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