Every spring and throughout the summer months, many different species of wasps and bees will emerge from lawns and turf. They have been in the ground all winter developing in the third stage of being an insect called the pupa. As the soil warms, pupa hatch. Adult bees and wasps will emerge, begin to look for good nest sites and quickly dig their new homes. They come in all sizes and colors. Some of the wasps are black, blue, brown, white and orange, yellow, and probably mixes of any listed above. Digger bees tend to look more like common bumble bees, but can look like a yellow jacket, a honey bee or certain types of flies.

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


Most all of digger wasps have common behavior which make them easy to control and understand.

  1. Nearly all are solitary. Although it appears you have thousands of “nests” in the yard, in fact they are all independent nests owned by different bees or wasps.
  2. Most like to fly around their “airspace” at different times of the day or season. This may have something to do with mating, air temperature or simply staking territory.
  3. Most are not too aggressive, but stay clear of them. One never knows if they may be allergic to a certain sting or venom. Don’t let children or pets play around nest sites.
  4. The first year these pests start to nest in a yard, they usually go unnoticed. It is easy to miss a few holes. Every year this will grow exponentially. Within 3-5 years, expect to have several thousand!
  5. Although nests may be under pine straw or wood chips, most species prefer to dig on bare ground between grass and plants. Holes are easy to mistake for worm castings.
  6. Most are predatory feeders foraging for grubs, small flying insects and ground dwelling pests. It is not uncommon for nest sites to be established in a yard which has little food supply. Because they can fly, food can be found in adjoining property. Nest locations may only be taking advantage of the free place to live without offering any help in controlling your pests! Once food is found, it is stung to death, brought back to the nest and buried. Eggs will be laid on it, in it or close to it so that hatching larva will have a ready food supply.
  7. Some are pollen or other organic food feeders; not all are predatory.
  8. Most nest sites tend to be where sunlight, moisture and soil density meet some requirement they like. Once a nest site is started, expect it to expand each year and become larger and larger. Although nests are abandoned each year, they are not reused. New nests will be made adjacent to old nests and most old nests fill in over the winter.
  9. Expect populations to vary from year to year, based on things such as the severity of the past winter, local insect levels, rain patterns, humidity and temperature.
  10. Most live a full year, emerging from pupa stages in the spring, building nests, laying eggs and then dying in the fall. Their offspring will emerge next year to continue the cycle.

Digger bees and wasps are not desirable pests for several reasons.

  1. Most people fear their presence. Although they usually will leave you alone if you don’t bother them, nests pose a hazard when built in play areas of the yard.
  2. Infestations will start small and rapidly grow. If you have a nest or two, expect to have several more in the next year. This will quickly grow out of control if left alone to develop.
  3. Nest sights will become unsightly. It is not uncommon for thousands of holes to be created within a few thousand square feet.
  4. Large nest sites are scary when the species nesting goes into their hovering activity. During these times, you will expect to have thousands of them flying low to the ground, around 1-3 feet high, simply flying in circles. Be sure to keep children and pets away during this activity.
  5. In every case, small infestations will eventually get too large and move into areas of the yard where you don’t want them. Be sure to prevent this by taking care of initial infestations before they grow.

Once you have found the general nest sight, control is easy to do and very effective. All you need to do is treat an area slightly larger than where they are nesting. Here are your options based on level of activity and area to be treated.



Deltamethrin DustIf all you have is a few holes – less than 30 – and you want to get control of the problem before it gets control of you and your yard, get some DELTAMETHRIN DUST. This product works fast, lasts long and will kill off all which are active at the time of treatment. Do the application in the evening when all adults are back in the nest.

Deltamethrin DustDelta Dust: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/dust/deltamethrin-dust


Cork 1/2"CrusaderThe best way to treat is to use a HAND DUSTER and simply go up to the hole, squeeze 3-5 times insuring thorough coverage and then quickly seal the hole with one of these PLUGS. Sealing the hole will serve you for many reasons.

CrusaderHand Duster: http://www.bugspraycart.com/equipment/dusters/crusader

Cork 1/2"Corks:  http://www.bugspraycart.com/equipment/equipment-plugs/cork-12


First, it insures the adults stay in the treatment and can’t escape without contacting a lethal dose. Second, it helps protect the chemical from excessive moisture. Though this dust will hold up well to water and moisture, plugging it will insure it lasts that much longer just in case it rains or if you have an irrigation system. The longer you allow it to last the better performance you will get. Remember, it can only work on exposed adults. Since most nests have eggs and pupa which are still developing, having the dust in the nest for extended periods of time insures there is something around to knock out young that will hatch throughout the season. Lastly, plugging the holes lets you know for sure just which ones you treated and which ones you need to address.



If treating in the dark, it is sometimes hard to see all which may be present. Plugging lets you know for sure and prevents any from being missed. Once treated, expect to kill most instantly. However, it is very common to have some new holes “pop” up from nowhere within a week which will need immediate attention. Furthermore, if the nests treated have a lot of eggs and pupa developing, you will assuredly get some new nests at some point in the future. If you treat them as described above you should be able to break their cycle so little to no activity will emerge next season.

Hornet KillerHowever, don’t be surprised if there are a few survivors for a week or so following the application. These usually die off but if you want to kill them right away, use some of our fast acting WASP/HORNET/BEE FREEZE.

Hornet KillerBee Hornet Freeze: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/aerosol/hornet-killer-15-oz


This aerosol product shoots up to 20 feet and will knock out any which survive the dusting. It’s also a good idea to have a can of it available with you when you actually do the dusting. It’s quick action can be quite helpful if the nest turns out to be a little larger then anticipated! As effective as dusting can be, it’s not a practical treatment when you have 30 or more nests. Such infestations are fairly common and will require a more general approach. However, this blanketing treatment will prove very effective and time saving.



Scatterbox HB Granule SpreaderComplete Insect Killer GranulesIf you have 30 or more nests active in turf and mulch areas, dusting will prove to be time consuming, costly and not efficient. There are two other products which work better for such infestations. Though either can be used by themselves, it is best to do both. We recommend this one-two combination for quick and complete control. First, apply some  COMPLETE LAWN GRANULES. These granules are slow releasing, will filter down into nests and onto the paths they travel and will last a long time. This residual action is needed so that emerging young and hatching pupa can be controlled once they are active. Apply them with a GRANULE SPREADER to insure good distribution. However, it is important to understand that the granules are not fast acting

Complete Insect Killer GranulesLawn Granules: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/granule/complete-insect-killer-granules

Scatterbox HB Granule SpreaderSpreaders:  http://www.bugspraycart.com/equipment/spreaders/scatterbox-spreader




Hose End SprayerConquerIts important to understand that lawn granules are slow acting and must be activated by water.  Now you could use a water sprinkler to do the watering but a better option is to treat over the top with some ESFENVALERATE. Esfenvalerate is very safe around people and pets. It is odorless, easy to apply and works quick on diggerwasps. Apply it over the top of the nests using a HOSE END SPRAYER.

ConquerConquer Esfenvalerate: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/conquer-esfenvalerate

Hose End SprayerHose End Sprayer:  http://www.bugspraycart.com/equipment/sprayers/gilmour-20g-390


Do the treatment immediately after a rain or after you apply the granules. Make an effort to get entrance ways and tunnels wet. This will insure the treatment will provide a residual to key areas so as the digger wasps entering and leaving will pick up a lethal dose and eventually die. The water used to apply the Esfenvalerate will serve you by carrying the chemical down into their holes as well as activating the Granules.



Viper CypermethrinMany species of digger wasps like flying around certain areas in the yard but they may not be nesting in the area. Though its not exactly known why this happens, its believed that it has something to do with the right amount of sun, shade, air flow and moisture. Regardless of the reason, such areas can be difficult to maintain because if they’re not using the soil for nests, how can you effectively get rid of them?

The best way to get rid of digger wasps in such areas is to use a highly repellent active known as CYPERMETHRIN. This material is detectable by insects and especially by flying insects like digger wasps. Spray all lawn, garden and mulch areas where digger wasps are flying and they’ll quickly move away to avoid the trace amounts of cypermethrin that will be in the area.

Viper CypermethrinCypermethrin: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/viper-cypermethrin




For playgrounds, pet kennels, keeping pens, chicken coops and other sensitive areas, use ESSENTRIA IC for direct treating nests and nest sites. Ideally formulated for these types of sensitive areas, Essentria uses food and plant oil extracts for its active ingredients so it won’t pose a hazard to children or pets.

EssentriaEssentria IC3: http://www.bugspraycart.com/exempt/liquid/eco-excempt-gal



When dealing with nesting digger wasps, its important to understand that every day there will be hatching pupae replacing the wasps that die from your treatments. This happens for about 2-4 weeks every spring. Basically there are a bunch of pupae in the ground from established nests which over winter and lay in wait for warm temps so they can emerge, mate and continue their goal of establishing more nests in your yard.

So when you spray, you will be killing the currently hatched population. The spray will take 1-2 days to kill them so the normal pattern following a good spray will be to see less digger wasps for about 2-4 days. But by 5-7 days, new pupae will have emerged and that means the amount you see flying around will begin to build.


This doesn’t mean the treatments aren’t working; it merely means you need to treat again.

So to avoid this from happening, retreat the infested area every 3-4 days for at least 2 weeks after they first start to get active. This will usually keep their numbers minimized and with any luck, the pupae will “run out” and all hatch within 2 weeks. But in some cases this process can take a month or longer so be prepared to spray twice a week for a month or so if you have a bad (aka: major) infestation.



If you believe there are digger wasps nesting in thick grass or under mulch which is effectively covering and hiding their holes, use some DOMINION 2L over the area instead of the actives listed above. Dominion is a unique product in that first, it won’t kill quickly. It actually takes 3-4 days to “kick in” and start to affect treated pests.

Dominion is also undetectable by target pests so they won’t know its been applied.Dominion

Dominion 2LDominion 2L:  http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/liquid/dominion-2l-termiticide-insecticide

This means even if you directly spray a digger wasp, it won’t die for a few days. Nor will it know anything has been sprayed on it.

But this is very much by design. Basically the Dominion will be able to infiltrate a good part of the digger wasp population because they won’t know its been applied and therefore will readily walk over the treatment. In the end, the Dominion will kill off any that have touched the treatment so it can be very effective for hard to locate nests.



Since digger wasps will return to good breeding grounds because they can “smell” such locations, lawns with problems will need annual treatments for 1-2 years to knock out all activity. And treatments done late in the summer and fall will not be able to get every stage so expect to see some hatching the following year which will need to be treated.

Also remember digger wasps can “flare up” in the fall. This is especially true if you have a warm summer or if you reside in a mild region. These fall hatches are typically smaller compared to the spring surge but regardless, its a great time to take action and treat. This is true because late summer treatments will be killing adults which are trying to lay more eggs. This means you can have more of an impact on breaking their cycle with these late summer applications so if you see them late in the year, don’t wait till spring to treat.

Digger bees and wasps will commonly infest most any yard. If left alone to grow and grow, their nest sights will soon take over huge amount of your yard. Their activity is unnerving to people and pets and though they tend to avoid confrontation, they can sting. Apply Deltamethrin Dust directly to nests if you only have a few to treat. For large infestations, a combination of Complete Lawn Granules and Esfenvalerate will prove more effective and easier to employ. Use Cypermethrin to repel them from the yard if they’re found flying around certain areas and Dominion for hard to locate nest sites where you’re certain they’re active. And though late summer and fall treatments will provide immediate relief, expect to still some the following spring.


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Comments on DIGGER WASP CONTROL Leave a Comment

August 23, 2013

Becky Brooks @ 8:34 am #


This information was helpful. My neighbors have had these for the last 3 years. They hired a pesiticide company for 2 years that didn’t sovle the problem so they decided to stick with irrigation. They found a home remedy using amonia. But more came back, I just found 2 nests in my yard. These wasps are the biggest wasps I’ve ever seen, and they are not aggressive but I’m allergic to bees and have always gone barefoot in my yard so now I’m concerned. I have 2 dogs who dig as well…and they chase bees….so I need to know what to do. My neighbors heard these infestations last 7 years so they think it will end in a few years. Is this true, or will they continue to get worse if we don’t act more comprehensively across all neighboring yards (where children play in the grass a lot)?

August 18, 2014

Brandon Kester @ 1:33 pm #


This is great because my family has a lot of Digger wasps every year so know that I found a solution my family can have more friends over!

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