Cicada killers are the among the largest in the wasp family. Known as sphecius speciosus to entomologists, cicada killers get active in the summer and will frighten most anyone they confront. Cicada killers are most black with some yellow stripes and grow to be over two inches long.

In case this is not what you’re looking for, we also have in depth articles on:              DIGGER WASPS          EUROPEAN HORNETS          MUD DAUBERS          WASPS          YELLOW JACKETS



Cicada killers will dig their nests throughout the yard, mulch and sand areas and will generally frighten anyone who sees them. Like most wasps, they can sting. They use their stinger to sedate and paralyze cicada’s. Cicada killers will hunt cicadas during the summer months when populations are active. They will find a cicada, sting it and bring it back to it’s nest. This short video shows a female Cicada Killer in action.



Once the cicada has been pumped full of toxins and rendered helpless, it will be brought back to the burrow where the paralyzed cicada will serve as food for the young cicada killers. Most egg burrows will have one or two cicadas for every egg which is laid. And most nests usually only have one egg chamber but when populations are high, cicada killers will dig extra chambers or extra nests to accommodate reproduction capabilities.



This will vary from year to year as the cicada population varies. Old folklore states that cicadas are active every 7 or 12 years, but in fact some will emerge every year – depending on the region. Cicada killer populations will vary depending on the hatch or release of cicadas. In general, the more cicadas, the more cicada killers.





Cicada killers are a nuisance around the home because the dig large nests which are unsightly. These nests are sometimes thought to be from an animal because they are so big.



Cicada Killers will spend their days foraging and if you watch the nest, you may catch them entering or leaving as they go about their daily habits. Since cicada killers are so large, most people are petrified of them.

In fact, cicada killers are generally not aggressive but you should ignore them and certainly you don’t want to irritate them. Stay clear of nests and be sure to keep children away from them as well.

Since the nest will not go away on it’s own and will probably be active from year to year, it is best to treat them as soon as you see it developing. There are several ways to do the treatment and the method you choose largely depends on how comfortable you feel doing the work, whether you see the nests clearly and how many nests you have.



If you have one or two holes and are only seeing one or two adults, getting control should be easy. Use WASP HORNET FREEZE for a quick knockdown of active. Stand close to their nests and spray the adults as you see them entering or leaving a nest.

Wasp Hornet Freeze uses a unique combination of actives which work well on wasps even as large as cicada killers. Be careful of less expensive over-the-counter aerosols. Many of these formulations are not strong enough for this type of wasp.

Once the adult has been sprayed and is dead, watch the nest for a few days. If no activity is noted, you have probably solved the problem and should seal the hole. If you see new activity the following year, you will need to go to the second treatment option to insure they don’t come back.

Wasp Freeze






The second treatment option is to use a liquid concentrate. You may want to employ this method if you are afraid of treating with Wasp Freeze because you don’t want to get close to the nest or if you have several nests that need to be treated. Liquid treatments should be done at night so there is little risk of conflict with adults and to insure all adults are inside.

The big advantage of using a liquid treatment is that it will provide residual in the hole. You’ll need this residual action if you wish to kill the larvae which will be hatching later in the summer. This is critical for chronic infestations and one of the main reasons problems persist from year to year.

For this need, CYPERMETHRIN is your best bet. Its highly active on cicada killers providing a quick knockdown. And it will last 2-4 weeks in the soil working on hatching larvae. Since nests can be large with more than one egg chamber, you should treat each hole by applying at least 1/2 gallon of mixed solution. This insures proper coverage and distribution throughout the chambers.

Use 1 oz per gallon of water and remember to treat close to dusk.

Viper Cypermethrin




To help affect the cicada killers faster, add 1 oz of SPREADER STICKER with the Cypermethrin. Spreader Sticker helps the cypermethrin to “coat” target pests that much faster which is important when targeting large insects with hard shelled bodies.

Spreader Sticker




Drenching the nests can be done by pouring the mixture down the holes with a bucket. But using a good PUMP SPRAYER with the tip set to pin stream is a better way to proceed. This way you don’t waste any spray and you’ll be able to spray non stop till you know you’ve applied at least 1/2 gallon per hole.

Pump Sprayer





No if you’re unsure where all the nests are located (which can happen when they burrow in mulch or under bushes), you’ll need to use a different active. This product is known as OPTIGARD and is known as a “non repellent” which means the target pest won’t know its present. This feature insures they’ll readily walk over the treatment and in doing so, pick up a lethal dose which will eventually kill them. You can use the pump sprayer above to broadcast the treatment or it can be done using a HOSE END SPRAYER. You will first need to see where they are most active and then try to distribute 1 gallon of mixed material per 100 sq/ft of area. Thats about a 10′ x 10′ section of turf. Optigard can be sprayed on turf, mulch, flowers, shrubs, etc. Keep in mind it will take 3-4 days for target pests to die and we suggest applying 1 gallon per evening until the activity stops. This usually takes 3-4 days.

Mix 1/2 oz of Optigard per gallon of water and remember the treatment will take a few days to work.





For large areas, a good Hose End sprayer might prove easier to use over a standard pump sprayer.





Again, this method of treating a large area is more of a “shotgun” approach and will not kill adults immediately. It usually takes several days for them to die but as they move over the small amounts of active applied, the exposure will eventually kill them. TO INSURE POSITIVE RESULTS, TREAT DAILY TILL ALL ACTIVITY STOPS.



No doubt the fastest results and quickest killing action can be achieved by dusting active holes with DRIONE DUST. This method is fast acting and only takes a few seconds to do. Treat at night when all the nest occupants are sure to be inside. Approach nests quietly (bring a flashlight if you cannot see the nest clearly) and make sure you know how many holes are present so you’re prepared to treat them all in one visit.

Drione goes a long way. The small 6 oz jar is enough to treat 25-50 nests and the 1 lb jar is enough to treat 100-200 nests.

Drione Dust




Drione works as a dessicant which means is till dehydrate affected adults immediately.

You’ll need a HAND DUSTER to make the application but they’re easy to use and will enable you to deliver the dust quick.






Each hole should receive 3-4 heavy puffs of Drione so you’ll only be able to treat 4-8 holes per filling of the Hand Duster. Drione works quickly and it “floats” well inside their nest meaning it will surely get down deep and penetrate every area insuring all occupants will eventually die – including the developing young. As for the active adults; once the Drione covers them, they’ll be dead within a few minutes. The following video shows how to properly dust a cicada killer nest.

The day after you dust watch the treated nests from afar and if you spy any that still have activity, plan on treating them again later that evening. Its easy to miss a few nests if you have 20 or more to treat so expect to do at least 1 followup. This is very “normal” since they could easily have hidden nests. But if repeat your treatments nightly, all activity can be controlled in just 2-3 days no matter how many you have.

One big benefits of using Drione is that the dust will readily absorb cicada killer odors and pheromones. This is important for preventing new nests. Since we know foraging cicada killers are always looking for good nest locations, once your yard has 3-5 nests in the ground it will be more likely to attract new adults searching for a good location to tunnel. This happens because existing nests release smells (undetectable by humans) which other cicada killers can detect from long distances away. And once they “smell” your yard as being good for nest building, they’ll target your property. This is one of the main reasons nests tend to appear in the same area year after year.

But dusting with Drione can effectively diffuse these scents which will prevent new cicada killers from finding your yard. So for long term protection, dusting with Drione has big advantages.





Remember that cicada killers late in the season will have already laid eggs and it is highly likely that you will have some activity the following year if you don’t treat thoroughly in the summer and fall once activity is discovered. This is because it’s hard to reach the eggs that are buried deep in the ground and without being able to directly treat them, chances are high the eggs will be able to hatch safely and feed without a problem since they’ll have their required food. Using Drione can take care of these remote eggs. But its easy to miss nests not used and cicada killers will often times ignore or stop using nests filled with eggs and move to new nests as the season wears on.

This means the following spring, as soon as it starts to warm, pupae in these missed nests will start hatching and the adults will emerge. This process can begin before cicada’s start emerging and well before you actually see any. For this reason its a good time to launch an attack and get them before summer nesting starts.

Additionally, once a good nesting area is located, adults will try to use such ground from year to year due to a lingering “scent” or “pheromones” in the area. This means any that emerge in your neighborhood will naturally be drawn to your nests looking for mates, good ground for new nests, etc. For this reason it’s important to treat previous nest sites early in the spring, at least once, with liquid applications of Cypermethrin or the granules listed below.

So even if you believe you succeeded in killing off previous nests but want to make sure no new nests form, use up any left over Cypermethrin by spraying the affected areas in the yard by April or May. Use 1 gallon of mixed product per 100 sq/ft.

Now for badly infested yards or if you’d like to treat the whole yard for “preventive” reasons, apply BIFEN GRANULES and CYONARA RTS every 2 months and you’ll be able to keep them away for good. Basically this combination will put in place a protective barrier so any local foraging cicada killers that might consider using you yard for new nests will detect its presence and stay clear of your land.

Use 10 lbs of granules for every 5,000 sq/ft of turf; the 25 lb bag below can cover up to 12,500 sq/ft.






Once the granules are in place, spray over the top with Cyonara. This comes in a “ready to spray” jug which only has to be attached to your garden hose and then its ready to use. One quart can cover up to 15,000 sq/ft.

Cyonara rts




Keep in mind using the Bifen and Cyonara is only for preventive treatments and will not work at controlling nests which are already established in the yard. For them you’ll need to use the Cypermethrin or Drione listed above.

But if you apply the granules and Cyonara in the yard early before summer, you’ll prevent new ones from sniffing around your yard looking for prime nest making soil.


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Comments on CICADA KILLER CONTROL Leave a Comment

July 6, 2012

janet @ 12:54 pm #

We have these killers really bad. How much of the two mixtures do we add together; the speader sticker and cypermethrin?

janet @ 6:47 pm #


Is this safe for pets to be around?

July 7, 2012
July 8, 2012

Ione @ 6:21 pm #


My daughter has a nest of these under her cucumber plant. Is there anything organic and safe she can use to get rid of them? She doesn’t want to use anything chemical for fear of contaminating her vegetables.

July 9, 2012

lisa @ 1:15 am #


We have an above ground pool that the cicada killers have made their nests under (right into the sand). How do we kill them in the sand? We do not know if liquid solutions are drying up before it soaks into the sand and before it will reach the bees? We have been spraying wasp killer on them as they fly. Some die but we have so many it makes it unbearable to be at the pool. Our pool measures 27 x 13 and one side is sand and the other is mostly dirt and they like the sand area.




July 11, 2012

Marcia @ 9:48 pm #


Just this week we have noticed several wasps going under our lower deck in between the slats. It happens to be near our above ground pool and back door. The dogs don’t care for them either. We have killed 4 but 2 more have replaced them. Will above methods work for under the wood slats?

July 12, 2012

Melissa @ 12:11 pm #


I have about 5-6 holes/nests within 5 feet of my house where we spend time outside. I’m terrified of them and so are my kids. I get them every year and more each year. How many bees are in each hole?

M Trout @ 2:15 pm #


Our entire curb strip is infested with these cicada killers. We have the dust and so far my husband has treated as many of the wholes we have been able to see. We did not do it at night. I will do it tonight. I was wondering is watering the area and keeping it moist would help get rid of the nests…

Bailey @ 2:43 pm #


We have 9 nests right around our pool an a dog and a 10 year old daughter. They swarm around us and I don’t know what to do.

Marisa @ 10:08 pm #


Last year we had several cicada killer nests in our yard. My husband treated them with delta dust and presto, they were gone almost overnight. This year they returned and we only found 2 nests (which he treated) but still have tons of cicadas swarming around our backyard. We also noticed that some were starting to hang out in our front yard. What do we do to get rid of them if we can’t find anymore nests? I’m scared to be outside with my 2 young children.

July 13, 2012
July 14, 2012

Leighton Swenson @ 12:43 pm #


Safety precautions for pets and humans if I use the Drione dust over a large area.

July 18, 2012

Sally Roser @ 12:17 pm #


We have cicada killers flying around and burrowing in the sandbox at our daycare center. There does not seem to be a nest any where in the area. The children love to play in the sandbox! Are there any “home remedies”/non-toxic of course that I could do to get rid of them? I am really uncomfortable with spraying or dusting the area with the kids playing in and near the sandbox area. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated!

Rob R @ 5:22 pm #


I have like 5-10 of these in my backyard and they pretty much stay right in front of the door on my shed. There is a gap between the bottom of the shed to the ground which is where I think they have made their nests but I can not be sure. I have stood there for several minutes waiting to see if they go under the shed but I have not caught them in the act. There are no visible nests on the ground anywhere so they have to be under there. What is the best way to destroy the nest if I can not see them. Please help because my daughter is extremely terrified of these things….not that I can blame her :)

July 20, 2012

Becci @ 4:04 pm #


We have been seeing two cicada killers flying around and they are going in and out of a crack that is under the cement steps that go into the front door of our house. We have captured the two adults females and are observing them with NO intent of releasing them. What would be the best method to use to treat the nests that are most likely under our steps? We can’t move the steps but there are areas around the steps with cracks that we could possibly spray bug killer into. Any advice would be helpful. We LOVE our cicadas and look forward to watching them every year as they hatch and dry their beautiful wings. A week ago I heard them singing in our trees and now we don’t hear any. I want these cicada killers gone!


July 22, 2012

Bernie @ 12:41 pm #


Just a compliment for tech support. Fantastic job explaining the proper methods to treat. Because of this site, cicada killers go the other way when they see me coming:) Thank you!

July 25, 2012

Al Cook @ 6:54 am #


We have these by the hundreds in my wife’s riding arena (110′ x 160′). What do you recommend for treatment of an area this size? The arena is sandy about 6-10″ deep.

Look forward to your response.

Thank you.

Anonymous @ 7:02 am #


I have them in behind the siding of my house right under the edge of the roof. How do I get to them to get rid of them?

July 26, 2012

Doug @ 8:14 am #


Does permethrin work as well as cypermethrin in the treatment of cicada killer wasps? I have permethrin in the form of guards tar ground drench as I am a hobby beekeeper with 15 hives and I use it for the control of hive beetles.

August 2, 2012

Kari @ 4:41 pm #


We have 2 big guys flying around our sidewalk and our neighbors driveway. We see them disappear under some crab grass but we can’t see any holes. This is the first year we have had them and we are scared to death of them because we have 3 small children. If we use the above mentioned methods but not know where the exact point of entry is will it be successful? We are doing the 50 yard dash everyday from our front door to our vehicles.

Cody @ 9:29 pm #


I have purchased the drione dust and a duster. I watched a video about how the drione dust works and it was mentioned that one of the components irritates the pest it contacts. If I dust the holes at night, will the irritation the dust causes have the cicada killers flying out ready to sting?

August 4, 2012

Blake @ 12:10 am #


Where can I purchase the Drione Dust?

August 7, 2012

Jay @ 1:02 pm #


In getting rid of Cicada killers, I saw where you mention to another person that putting sod over top of them won’t stop them because eventually they will chew right through the sod. How about applying mulch?

Laying weed fabric on the ground and over nests then laying mulch down over that. Shouldn’t this method rid the cicada killers at least over time?

August 14, 2012

Sally @ 11:37 am #


I live in Connecticut and it seems we are unable to buy any of the listed treatments. Can you ship to CT.? If not then is there a CT-acceptable alternative? We have multiple nests outside the front door and they have totally succeeded in freaking us out. Thanks.

September 7, 2012

Al @ 11:26 am #


I’ll tell you one thing, people will tell you they don’t sting…..for sure they are WRONG! I’m nursing a massive sting this morning from one of these cicada killers and it is VERY painful!!

George Jahnigen @ 1:07 pm #


Tech Support–I had a large number of of cicada killer wasp nests during August, but they seemed to have become inactive. I can still see the entrances to the nests. Should I treat the nests with Drione dust at this time or wait until next year to see if they return? Please advise. Thanks.

March 4, 2013

Mark Houser @ 1:37 am #


Was wondering, since the larvae grow in the ground, would laying down grub killer in the spring affect them at all before they actually turn into adults and come out?

April 11, 2013

Shannon @ 1:37 am #


I had two of these Cicada Killer males in my house. Why do you think it came in the house? How do I make sure that they don’t get my house again? I did not have any windows open …

July 18, 2013

scott Mallinger @ 11:04 am #


I have cicada killer flying around my drive way along a rock wall. What should I do? I see them flying in and out of the rocks.

July 25, 2013

Stella Tantillo @ 11:42 pm #


For the first time ever, we’ve seen these cicada killers flying between our neighbors yard and our driveway. We’ve only seen a couple. They tend to fly back and forth and sometimes go into the cracks in our concrete driveway. Would they have built nests in those cracks? We’ve searched our yard and do not see any of the type of nests you described. Please advise. Thank you!

July 26, 2013
August 7, 2013

Nita @ 10:42 pm #


Hi. I have probably 40 – 60 of these wasps around my driveway. I have a retaining rock wall they have destroyed nesting in it. They push a ton of dirt out on my driveway and I’ll clean it up and the next day there is more dirt. I can’t pour things down their nests because its in the walls. I’m on my last nerve and have no clue what else to do.

August 8, 2013
August 11, 2013

Pete @ 12:45 pm #


Hello, I’m in NJ and have about 20 active nests on my 1 acre lawn. At this time of the year what would be a better (more effective) product to control them – Drione or the Cypermethrin? My local garden center said to use liquid 7 and spray that in each hole. However I have not seen any results.

August 31, 2013

jen @ 7:44 pm #


Okay….I didn’t read anywhere….but the killers are literally eating my lilac Bush! This is the first I have seen them doing this and they have invited all other types of wasps to join them….they are killing my lilacs. There are a whole bunch of them….how would you suggest getting rid of them? The Bush is 15 feet by 15 feet…and I have two of them…

September 2, 2013

R. Wright @ 6:31 pm #


Can cicada killers be active in fill dirt? We received some fill dirt last year when we were re-seeding our yard. This year we have a large infestation of cicada killers. We never had the problem before. We’re wondering if the problem came with the fill dirt.

September 4, 2013
June 18, 2014

Leslie @ 6:33 pm #


I have about 5 holes in the ground from cicada killer wasps. They are large and they look just like the pictures. Confused as to why I have them though because there are no Cicadas in Southern California (San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles). I have lived in this house for 20 years and have never had them before. Was wondering how far down the holes are and where in that hole do they lay their eggs. I want to be able to kill the eggs as well so I do not have them back next year. Thanks.

June 19, 2014
July 16, 2014

vita @ 3:24 pm #


I just purchased the Cypermethrin and Spreader as well as the pump. Ready to go out tonight and spray the nest(s) that we observe today (looks like a couple right now). After reading all the comments, however, should I have gotten the Drione dust instead? Does it work better and more thorough? I was skeptical bout using the dust and feel more comfortable with the liquid, pump and extended hose. Thanks!

July 17, 2014
September 3, 2014

Duane @ 7:49 pm #


Are these safe for use around wells? Concerned about well contamination.

September 4, 2014
March 13, 2015

Cody Martin @ 1:38 pm #


Coming up on two or three springs ago we discovered an infestation with C.K. Wasps. We tried local people and it was pointless every single time. Found you guys on google and bought the poison and sticking agent you recommended last spring. Used it this past spring/summer and the numbers dropped off drastically and quickly. So this upcoming season is going to be interesting. Hopefully I can eradicate them and start using the control products you sell to keep them away. I just wanted to say thanks. You guys were the only company that had a clue.

Cody Martin
Marion, IN

October 13, 2015

Torie @ 10:51 am #

We get these annoying little wasps each year on the hill in our front yard. We have used local companies to try and irradicate but each year the colonies and nests seem to multiply. Now that we are approaching the winter months, is there anything we can do to the nests to prevent or reduce the amount of wasps next summer? The only way we’ve been able to reduce them in the past is to actually kill the active wasps with a small tennis racket. My husband will spend an hour or so each day swatting at them with my sons spongebob tennis racket. I’ve even contemplated selling our home to get away from these pests.

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