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Cicada Killers - A Mostly Harmless Wasp

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 9:00 AM by Iowa Corn

This year there has been a spike in the number of cicada killers in Iowa. They are known for their large size (1- 1 ½” long). This wasp has a threatening appearance but it is highly unlikely that you will be stung by it. Males typically hatch in early to mid July with females following in late July to early August. When a female hatches, she will immediately mate and search for a
suitable site to dig her burrow for the ground nest. Although both look aggressive, the male (which has no stinger) is actually searching for a female. The female is concerned only with looking for food and a proper nesting site. As the name indicates, cicada killers, kill and eat cicadas. Cicada killers are not aggressive toward people or pets and tend not to be overly protective of their nesting sites. People come in contact with them due to the wasp’s preference to nest in disturbed areas with minimal ground cover (often around homes).

Control Methods
It is highly suggested that you do not use pesticide sprays or exterminators for control. There is more danger with contamination from the sprays compared to that of being stung (Exterminators may kill the wasps that are present now, but more will find the area suitable for nesting and those that have nested would have already deposited their eggs for next year’s crop).  If you have several wasps in your backyard, it is best to just leave them alone. If you feel you must get rid of them, a natural solution of light vegetable oil and vinegar, poured into their burrow late in the evening or early in the morning will encourage the wasp to find a new location.

Why Are There More This Year?
Nature has a way of controlling the numbers of all species. If you have been outside in the evenings you probably have noticed a few cicadas starting to “sing”. This is the initial hatch of this cicada and as the summer goes on, their evening (and daytime) calls will become almost deafening in areas. A natural control agent for cicadas is the cicada killer. As the numbers of cicadas go up, so will the number of cicada killers. This will level off in the next year or so, but you should expect to see more of this non-aggressive, mostly harmless wasp.

Tagged As: Cicada killers

We have a pussy willow tree that overhangs our deck that has become a favorite haunt for a large number of Cicada Killers. This is the first year I've ever seen them - and, truth be told, I had never even heard of them before. While I believe that they are harmless to humans, these boys are huge and intimidating. Our 7-year-old daughter absolutely refuses to play outside in our yard now. I am absolutely averse to using any type of chemical in my yard, but am also remiss that we have lost our outdoor oasis (for the time being). Do you have any tips on coexisting with these critters? Is there any way to make our yard less appealing? Should we expect them to return now year after year?
Bakingbrat | noreply@blogger.com | 07/26/2013 at 11:57 AM
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