Cicada Killer Wasp – Identify and Admire
Reading about something with “wasp” and “killer” in its name might concern you. But this insect kills mostly cicadas and is harmless to humans. The cicada killer wasp is about 1 1/2 inches long and has yellow markings on its body. The sound as it flies is deeper than most insects; some say it’s a B-52 bomber-type sound. The wasp digs burrows in the ground and mounds the soil at the entrance. (see below)
Cicada killer wasps usually appear in late July and August when adult insects are abundant. The males hover around the underground nest and zoom at you, but like all male insects, they can not sting.
The female is usually off in the trees looking for a cicada or big caterpillar to drag to the nest. The female paralyzes grubs or cicadas by stinging them, places them in the burrow and lays an egg on it. When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the insect.
Since the cicada killer wasp is generally considered harmless, I urge gardeners to leave the nest alone. Or you could spread mulch over the spot and encourage grass to grow. However, if you must eradicate it, fill the nest hole with water and they will abandon the site. Cover the entrance with a rock or a brick to see if one emerges later.
Now that you know what is going on you can watch them with no fear. It’s better than “Lion versus Antelope” on Animal Planet!
Here is a great link that explains all about the wasp’s life cycle: