And, What You Should Do If You See One

It’s bee and wasp season in Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut, and the buzzing insects are out in full force. Here at Graduate, we often get calls about cicada killers, a large,  intimidating species of wasp that are known for their tendency to attack cicadas. Many people get alarmed and panic when they see these scary wasps digging holes in their yard! So, what should you do?

What Are Cicada Killer Wasps?

Also known as Eastern Sand Wasps or Cicada Hawks, cicada killer wasps are found in the eastern United States. They range in size from ½ an inch to 2 inches long, and are typically black with pale yellow markings on the abdomen. These wasps dig holes by burrowing into soft, sandy soil. They can usually be found in yards, flowerbeds, or next to sidewalks, driveways or patios.

The wasps will sting and paralyze a cicada, and then return with it to their burrow. Once in the nest chamber, they will lay an egg on the cicada’s body. When the egg hatches, the larvae will feed on the cicada as they developed. Once the wasps reach adulthood, they feed on flower nectar.

Two cicada killers next to a pen for scale
Cicada killers are large compared to other types of wasps

Can Cicada Killer Wasps Sting You?

Unlike other social types of wasps (yellow jackets and hornets) that will aggressively protect their nests by attacking a person, pet  or other animal, these solitary wasps won’t typically go out of their way to harm a human. If harassed, stepped on, or swatted, however, they can sting you. It’s best to play it safe and not go near these wasps, especially if you are allergic to stinging insects.

What to Do If You Have Cicada Killer Wasps on Your Property

Even though cicada killers pollinate plants and are considered beneficial, nobody wants to accidentally disrupt one and get stung. Keeping your turf thick and well-maintained will help discourage them from burrowing in your yard. If you notice a nest hole (half inch in diameter with a mound of dirt around it) on your property, consider calling your local pest control professional to avoid getting stung.

As always, give Graduate a “buzz” if you have any bee or wasp problems this summer. We’ll bee happy to help.

Scroll to Top