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          HORNTAIL WASPS          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. 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. Since they are so large, most people are petrified of them. In fact, cicada killers are generally not aggressive, but don’t irritate them. Stay clear of their 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 as well as the cost factor.



Wasp FreezeIf you have one or two nests and are only seeing one or two adults, control should be easy. Use WASP HORNET FREEZE for a quick knockdown of adults as they are 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 such 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. 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 FreezeWasp Hornet Freeze:



The second treatment option is to use liquid concentrates. 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. Liquid treatments are cheaper to do than using Wasp Freeze and will enable you to treat large infestations economically.

More importantly, liquid treatments will provide some residual in the hole so you may be able to kill newly hatched or developing larva. This could prove important when dealing with chronic infestations.



Spreader StickerViper CypermethrinUse CYPERMETHRIN and SPREADER STICKER mixed together and soak their nests. Cypermethrin will provide a residual for a month or more. The Spreader Sticker allows the treatment to penetrate the adults quicker which kills them before they know what is happening. This eliminates the possibility of being stung. Since nests can be large with more than one egg chamber, you should treat each hole by applying 1/2 to 1 gallon of mixed solution. This insures proper coverage and distribution throughout the chambers.

Viper CypermethrinCypermethrin:

Spreader StickerSpreader Sticker:


Pump SprayerSince most active areas have several nests, liquid treatments are more economical than using any type of Wasp Freeze. Use a PUMP SPRAYER with the tip set to pin stream and spray into their hole non stop till you know you’ve applied at least 1/2 gallon per hole.

Pump SprayerEliminator Pump Sprayer:


Hose End SprayerIf you are unsure where the nest is located, broadcast the liquid treatment over the area using a HOSE END SPRAYER. You will first need to see where they are most active. Next, try to narrow the area down to the smallest section of turf that you can. You can do this by watching where you see them enter or leave mulch and plant areas. Cicada killers will have specific flight paths they will use to enter and fly around nests. Unfortunately, the actual hole is sometimes masked and covered and hard to see.

Hose End SprayerHose End Sprayer:


Using the Cypermethrin listed above, you will need to broadcast it over the 100 sq/ft where you think they are nesting. You’ll need to saturate the ground when using this technique so expect to use 2-3 gallons per 100 sq/ft. This method is more of a shotgun approach and will not kill adults immediately. It usually takes several days for them to die, but they will be exposed to small amounts of the cypermethrin over time as they travel in and out of their nest which will eventually kill them. TREAT DAILY TILL ALL ACTIVITY STOPS.



CrusaderDrione DustOne last treatment option that’s highly effective is to dust nests directly using DRIONE DUST and a HAND DUSTER. 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 back at their nest. Approach nests quietly (bring a flashlight if you cannot see the nest clearly) and make sure you know how many holes there are so you’re prepared to treat them all in one visit.

Drione DustDrione:

CrusaderHand Duster:


Each hole should receive 1-2 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 the next occupants will die. And once the Drione covers them, they’ll be dead within the hour. The following video shows how to properly dust a cicada killer nest.

The next day you should watch the treated nests from afar and if you spy any that still have activity, plan on treating them again later that evening. Repeat until all nest activity stops.

One added benefit 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 take advantage. This is one of the main reasons nests tend to keep appearing 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 its 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.

This means the following spring, as soon as it starts to warm, the pupae will start hatching and the adults will begin to emerge. This process can take a month or two, well before you actually see any, and in fact is a good time to launch an attack and get them before the summer 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 a month, with liquid applications of Cypermethrin.

Cyonara RTSBifen LP GranulesNow if you believe you have succeeded in killing off previous nests but want to make sure no new nests form, this can be accomplished by treating early in year and then throughout the warm season for your region. So if apply BIFEN GRANULES and CYONARA RTS every 2 months to your yard, gardens, flower beds and island areas around the home, you can stop new nests from forming all year. Basically this combination will put in place a protective barrier so any foraging cicada killers that might consider using you yard for new nests will move away.

BifenthrinBifen Granules:

Cyonara rtsCyonara RTS:


By treating known nest sites early before summer, you’ll have a good chance of killing the hatching adults before they get above ground and get active for the summer. This strategy works because repeatedly treating will enable the Bifen and Cyonara to percolate down into the ground which in turn will effect the newly hatching adults before they can emerge. During their spring hatch, they’re vulnerable but hard to reach in the ground unless you’ve been treating on a regular basis. For this reason its imperative to get them early and often.


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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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