Cicada killer wasps can be very intimidating. These wasps are big, getting up to 1.75 inches, and black with minimal yellow striping and reddish wings. Sometimes these wasps can be confused with the European wasp but European wasps are more vibrant in yellow as well as having more yellow than black.
Cicada killer wasps have a very threatening appearance due to their size and males that can be territorial and will dive-bomb intruders that are around their nest. Despite this cicada killers rarely sting people. Stingers are only present on females and are used when hunting.
These wasps are solitary and nest in the ground by tunneling in bare soil, flower beds, under the edge of concrete slabs, laws, sandy areas, and spots with little vegetation. This burrow seems simple from the outside with just a mound of dirt at the entrance but below ground, they are dug about a foot long!
Females will use their stinger to paralyze a cicada and then fly back it back to its nest where it will bring it inside and use it as food for their young. In the burrow, a female will lay their egg under the cicada where it will eventually hatch a few days later as larvae that will use the cicada for food over a 2 week period. The female will chamber off each section of their nest once an egg is laid and a cicada placed inside, similar to carpenter bees. This way multiple young can be placed in the same burrow. Once the larvae is done eating the cicada they will spin a cocoon and hibernate until the following spring. The larvae will then leave their cocoon in the spring and become a pupa, this is a resting stage. The adult cicada killer will eventually hatch from the pupal stage and leave the burrow. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania adult cicada killers normally emerge in July but depending upon the weather it could be earlier or later. Due to this long process cicada killers only produce 1 generation per year.
If you are worried you might have a cicada killer burrow on your property contact Hoffman’s Exterminating for a free inspection and estimate today!