Have you found an odd-looking dirt mound in your yard about a foot or so long? It may even have a “U” shape design in the dirt mound. This is most likely a cicada killer wasp that made her burrow for her future generation. You may have even gotten a glimpse of her while she was digging her burrow. Some might panic due to the size of the wasps. Your mind might’ve created images of a whole colony of these large wasps flying around your home and the stings they could inflect. A-Tex Pest Management is here to share information about the cicada killer wasps, explain how they are actually beneficial, and that they don’t typically pose any threat to humans.
Identification of Cicada Killer Wasps
Cicada killer wasps can be found throughout America. They vary in color depending on the species. Here in Texas, our cicada killer wasps are black and yellow, while west coast cicada killer wasps are orange and yellow. All cicada killer wasps are around 1 to 2 inches in length with long transparent wings. The color of the wings can vary from black, yellow and orange in transparency. The yellow markings are found just on their abdomen with three rows of markings found there and on their legs.
Why Are Cicada Killer Wasps Named That?
Even though their name might sound intimidating, their name is quite literal. These wasps hunt and kill those annoying cicada bugs that wake us up early each summer morning. However, cicada killer wasps actually do not eat the cicada they kill. Adult cicada killer wasps feed on nectar, honeydew and sap from trees, and flowering plants. The female cicada killer wasps are equipped with a nasty looking stringer at the end of their abdomen that they use to catch cicadas. They can sting people, but only if you’re threatening her nest. So why are these large wasps killing cicadas if they are not eating them? It is for the young. After a female has finished mating during the spring and summer months, the males will shortly die. Afterward, the female will begin hunting for cicadas, injecting venom that paralyzes them, and eventually, the cicadas die. The female will bring the cicada back to her burrow that and will create galleries for each cicada. She will lay a single egg inside each cicada she kills. After the female has laid all of her eggs, she will seal up her burrow and she too will shortly die. By the end of summer, these eggs will hatch and will begin feeding on the cicada. After they have completely eaten the cicada, the cicada killer wasp larva will spin a web cocoon around themselves and hibernate through the winter. Come spring or early summer, the larvae will emerge as adult cicada killer wasps and repeat the life cycle once again.
Solitary Cicada Killer Wasp Stings
Some important facts to know about cicada killer wasps is that they are solitary wasps and don’t gather in colonies. They play a vital role in our ecosystem by maintaining the cicada population and they even help pollinate our flowering plants. They do not harm humans unless seriously provoked. Their stings do hurt, but the pain will eventually subside. They are not venomous. If you see a female digging her burrow, we recommend you leave her alone and allow the next generation to thrive. Again, they do play an important role in our ecosystem.
Cicada Killer Stinging Insect Inspections, Control & More in Austin, Round Rock, Leander, Pflugerville & Cedar Park, Texas
A-Tex Pest Management hopes we were able to reassure you that your home is not in danger when the presence of cicada killer wasps. If you’re having a pest invasion or looking for a good quality pest control service, contact A-Tex Pest Management today.