Ken’s Quick Tip: Killer Wasp

I’ve received a lot of feedback on my Quick Tips about dog vomit fungus and crane flies. I have also received more questions about other things our customers have wondered about in the past. Today I’m going to tackle what one customer described as looking like a ‘giant wasp from an old Japanese horror movie.’

They were referring to a cicada killer wasp which typically are active in our summer months in North Texas (you can see a picture of a cicada killer wasp on our blog.)

Every summer I get a few phone calls and emails from customers worrying about these huge wasps flying around their lawns. They may look creepy (especially when they are flying off with their prey,) but cicada killer wasp are nothing to worry about.

Cicada killer wasps propagate at the same time cicadas are rattling around looking for mates. These killers look similar to wasps, but are much larger, sometimes reaching 1.5 inches long.

The wasps are beneficial in controlling our cicada populations, which during mating season emit a cacophonous noise by vibrating membranes on the bottom of their abdomen (the female cicada are drawn to that sound.)

The wasps sting cicadas, paralyzing them and allowing the wasps to carry them to small burrows dug in the ground by female wasps. The wasps pull cicadas into the hole and deposit an egg. Once the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the cicada before eventually turning into a wasp (which I guess does kind of sounds like a horror movie set-up!)

For those not interested in being around cicada killers, there are a couple of options.

• Patience. They go away by August in our area.
• Insecticidal dust can be sprinkled around the hole and tamped down with your shoe. The wasp is killed by the dust as it attempts to clear the hole.

Either way cicada wasps rank fairly low in the list of dangerous insects. In my opinion if you want to invest time and money into fighting a pest this summer, focus on mosquitoes which can ruin your ability to enjoy your lawn and landscape during our summer months.

See, I really do love ALL questions, even ones about giant killer wasps! If you have a question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at [email protected].