Cicada Killer Wasps
In the past few days we've been getting calls concerning large wasps flying around and burrowing in customer's yards. These large (between .5" to 2" long) are the non-aggressive Cicada Killer Wasps. They appear in early July when the Cicada insect appears. The male is smaller than the female. Only the female has a stinger which she uses to paralyze the Cicada when she catches them. After mating, the male dies and the female will dig a burrow in the ground. They look for areas with sparse or bare vegetation which make it easier to burrow into the soil. After making a burrow the female with catch and paralyze a Cicada which she takes into the burrow and lays her eggs onto it. The Cicada becomes food for the eggs and young Cicadas which overwinter in the burrow and emerge in late spring. Cicada Killer Wasps are territorial and will return to the same area each year. If the burrows are not treated the condition will continue to get worse as more Cicadas hatch out the next season.
TREATMENT OPTIONS: As noted above Cicada Killers are not aggressive and only the female has a stinger. I have never heard of them attacking anyone but they are a nuisance for the month of July and into early August. The best treatment option is to try to ride it out until the majority of them have made their burrows and laid their eggs. Then we can come and treat each individual hole with a dust which will kill the eggs and the female. This will reduce the population for the next year. Another thing you can do is to make sure you have a healthy lawn with no bare or sparse patches making it harder for them to burrow into the ground. This can be achieved by fertilizing your lawn in the fall and spring.