How to Get Rid of Cicada Killer Wasps
If you live in Texas, you might have seen what looks like a wasp on steroids flying around your backyard. These ground digger wasps, or cicada killers, are menacing looking bees that are up to three inches in length. They put bumble bees to shame when it comes to size.
The ground digger wasp is 2-3 inches in length (closer to 3 here in Texas), with a red body and bright yellow stripe around the abdomen. They fly extremely fast and you can literally see them darting around from a great distance. They aren't overly aggressive when it comes to stinging, but they will dive-bomb you and keep going. They have a pronounced buzz, much louder than a bumble bee. Even if they don't sting, they are very frightening due to their enormous size.
They are also called cicada killers. They prey on cicadas and carry them back to their underground den. For those of you who know how big a cicada is, can you imagine the size of a wasp that can prey on one? Scary thought, isn't it.
How to Get Rid of Them Yourself
If you only have a couple of ground digger wasps flying around, then you can probably eliminate the problem yourself. However, if you have more than 4 or 5 that are constantly around, you may need to call in an exterminator. The females are the only ones that sting supposedly, but who wants to get close enough to find out?
The easiest method for eliminating this type of pest is, first, by locating their den. Remember, they dig into the ground so you will be looking for a hole the size of a penny or nickle on parts of the yard that do not contain grass. A sign that one has burrowed into the grass is a mound that resembles an anthill, but with no ants present. Once you find these holes/mounds (there is a picture here that shows exactly what you are looking for) mark them with something like a stake, stick, or even better a plastic knife. This will make the holes easier to find at nighttime when you will do your attack.
These wasps leave their dens during the day and hunt for cicadas, so it is best to wait until nighttime when they have returned back home before you try to eliminate them. Grab a flashlight and head out to the places you've marked. Then you can try one of these methods mentioned below:
- Hornet Spray: You can buy hornet spray that shoots up to 25 feet and unload a massive amount into each hole. These wasps will sting if provoked and protecting their nests so aim good and give yourself some space between yourself and the hole.
- Gasoline: I've read plenty of stories on the web suggesting that pouring gasoline down each hole is effective at killing them, though I've never tried this method myself. I've seen lots of information about using gasoline effective.
- Boiling Water: Another method mentioned on the web that some people have found successful was the use of dumping boiling water down the holes. I'm kind of skeptical about the boiling water being strong enough but I haven't tried. I have my own favorite treatments mentioned further down this list.
- Bleach: This chemical could kill the females but their eggs will probably hatch the next year
- Ammonia: This is a favorite method of mine. Dumping ammonia down the holes and then covering the hole with a rock or brick or even filling it in will kill all the wasps in the holes, though I'm not sure it kills the eggs and upcoming ground digger wasps from hatching and appearing the next year.
- This stuff is gold in my opinion. You can buy a bottle of liquid boric acid from drug store or even some Walmarts for under $30. When dumped down the holes, this is the only method that kills the eggs, as well as the female. So that means no returning wasps the next year. This is the only product that has been known to eliminate the eggs in order to prevent them from returning the next year. Boric Acid:
After you have sprayed the holes full of hornet killer/gasoline/boric acid etc, watch for a couple of days to see if there is anymore activity or any dead wasps on the ground near the holes you sprayed. If you detect dead wasps near the hole but still see a couple flying around, there is chance you missed a den somewhere. If this is the case, then you will need to search for other holes and repeat.
In order to prevent them from coming back, always keep your yard moist because they won't build nests in the ground if it is wet. If you can't seem to get rid of them on your own, you might consider hiring an exterminator to fix the problem. Exterminators have more powerful chemicals and can do a more efficient job. The only problem with hiring an exterminator is the cost.
When All Else Fails
For whatever reason the household products fail to eradicate these insects, there is still a couple of other things you can try before calling in a professional. These methods require you to purchase a professional grade pesticide but apply it yourself. If you would rather go this route, you can always spray down the wasps holes. The method is simple, and all you need is a sprayer. You mix a packet of Demon with a gallon of water and this highly potent stuff kills on contact. It's non toxic to animals once it is dry. Demon WP
The second guaranteed way to eliminate them is using a down each hole. Pyrethrin is actually what some professional exterminators use when they come to take care of the problem. This could be a simple solution when nothing else seems to be working and it is a lot cheaper than hiring an exterminator for a couple of annoying cicada killers. pyrethrin-based powder
Which methods have you tried?
Your feedback is greatly appreciated. If you have used another method of treatment not mentioned here, please let us know--whether or not it did or didn't work. And I'm also curious if anyone has ever been stung by one of these bees! If so was it more painful than a normal wasp?
Questions & Answers
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