Cicada Killer Wasp

Actual Size: 1 ½”

Characteristics: Large, black abdomen with yellow markings and amber wings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Prefer areas in full sun, nearby cicada-heavy areas. They tunnel underground, leaving a U-shaped appearance in the soil.


  • Females create burrows in bare soil.
  • The venom of this wasp paralyzes cicadas.
  • Cicada killer wasp larvae feed on the paralyzed cicadas.

Cicada Killer Wasps (AKA Ground Digger Wasps) in Suffolk County & Nassau County

Cicada killer wasps are one of the largest wasp species in North America. Female wasps often attack cicadas in flight, sting them until they become paralyzed, and take them back to the nest to feed her larvae. Cicada killers are found throughout the U.S., Mexico, and parts of Central America. These wasps dig holes or burrows, preferably in soft, sandy, and well-drained soil. They may be found on sloped terrains, in flower beds, along patio edges or sidewalks, as well as in the yard.

Cicada Killer Wasp Habitat

Cicada killer wasps appear as adults in late June or July and are mostly seen visiting flowers or digging burrows in sandy or light soil. The cicada killer wasp nests in the ground near cicada populations. Frequently, dozens of their burrows are located in lawns and on golf courses. A pile of soil often surrounds the entrance. The male wasp flies guard duty over the lawn, chasing away potential predators.

Cicada Killer Wasp Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Unlike other wasp species, cicada killers are not very aggressive and rarely sting humans or pets unless they are disturbed. Males are aggressive and territorial but do not possess a stinger. A sting from a cicada killer wasp can be painful and their venom may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Cicada killers can be a nuisance if they are found on your property. Female wasps dig fairly large burrows, making quite a large mess near plants and vegetation. The burrowing behavior of this wasp can damage the roots of plants and make some structures, like walkways and pathways, unstable. If you are dealing with a cicada killer wasp problem, contact your local wasp removal experts for help.

Cicada Killer Wasp FAQs

What do Cicada Killer Wasps look like?

Adults can reach lengths of up to 2 inches, with females notably larger than males. Similar in appearance to larger, intimidating versions of common wasps, they have distinct black and yellow markings or stripes on their body. Translucent amber wings remain outstretched when at rest, unlike most wasps that fold their wings.

What are the signs of Cicada Killer Wasps?

Look for burrowed holes in the ground, typically about half an inch wide, created by these wasps for nesting purposes. Additionally, sightings of these large wasps flying close to the ground or digging around your property can signal their presence. Adult wasps and their burrows can be seen in lawns, gardens, flower beds, athletic fields, sandy playgrounds or golf course spots, and beside concrete slabs.

What Damage do Cicada Killer Wasps Cause?

Their nesting activities cause damage to lawns and garden areas due to their burrowing behavior. Female cicada killer wasps dig their burrows, usually around ten to twenty inches deep, using their jaws to loosen the ground and pushing loose dirt behind them with their hind legs. This process results in channels about half an inch wide, occasionally bringing up as much as six inches of soil to the surface, causing an eyesore and smothering the lawn.

How do you prevent Cicada Killer Wasps?

To prevent cicada killer wasps from choosing your property for nesting, consider minimizing bare soil patches in your lawn or garden beds. Covering exposed areas with mulch or ground cover plants can discourage these wasps from digging. Additionally, repairing any loose or damaged window screens and sealing cracks in exterior walls can help prevent their entry into your home.

How do I get rid of Cicada Killer Wasps?

If the presence of cicada killer wasps becomes bothersome, seeking professional pest control services is recommended. Trained experts can assess the situation and implement targeted treatments to remove existing nests or deter further nesting activity without causing harm to the environment.

Can Cicada Killer Wasps hurt me?

Cicada killer wasps are not inherently aggressive towards humans and are less likely to sting unless provoked or threatened. However, their size and appearance can be intimidating. Avoiding direct contact or disturbing their nesting areas is advisable to minimize any potential interactions.