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.
CICADA KILLER NESTS ^
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 NESTS AROUND THE HOME ^
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.
HOW TO TREAT CICADA KILLER NESTS ^
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.
BEST CICADA KILLER LIQUID TREATMENT ^
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.
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.
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.
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.
FASTEST CICADA KILLER TREATMENT ^
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 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.
LONG TERM CICADA KILLER PREVENTION ^
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.
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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