when to treat cicada killers


I am in Pennsylvania and my back yard was taken over by Cicada Killers over the past 2 or 3 years. My plan is to use Viper Insecticide Concentrate over the entire area. When would you suggest is the best time to apply Viper? In the Fall and let it percolate into the ground or in the Spring?

If you have a problem, treating from spring through summer and into the fall would be the best way to go. Let me explain…

So if you review our Cicada Killer article, you’ll learn this wasp gets active in early summer and as it collects food, they will lay eggs on dead insects they collect throughout the summer and fall. Now even though cicada killers mostly feed on cicadas, they will feed on other insects so when active, they’re constantly collecting dead insects and storing them in the ground. Next they’ll be laying eggs on these same insects and this in turn is what will continue their life cycle in this area of your yard.

Now in a few weeks of the eggs being laid, they’ll start to hatch. This will happen all summer and into the fall. Once hatched, the larvae will feed and then after getting their fill, they’ll spin a cocoon where they’ll morph into the adult cicada killers you see flying in and out of the nests they make in your yard.

The point is the larvae will remain active anytime the ground is warm and this is usually through the summer and fall. This also means spraying at this time is smart.

Now as winter hits and the ground gets cold, they’ll go dormant but come the spring, any eggs left over from the previous year will start to hatch and pick up where they were last active the previous year.

And as they get their fill, they’ll go into their cocoon to pupate like any other insect pupae where they’ll mature and get ready for the arrival of the cicada’s.

So what does all this mean?

Well, for starters, you can only “kill” the adults and the larvae. The eggs and pupae are too protected in their natural casings so you can only effectively control larvae and adults.

And with that being said, it becomes clear the best time to treat the ground is from the spring to late fall. In fact larvae will be hatching and feeding long after the adults are dead so even if you don’t see any in September or October, it would be wise to treat. This way you’ll be sure to get any active larvae that might be in the ground which in turn will help keep hatching adults in the area minimized come the following year.

Next, treating in the spring (way before the cicadas arrive) would also be smart. This way any early hatching eggs in the spring will be controlled and again, the problem will be that much more manageable compared to leaving all those eggs and larvae to do as they wish.

Lastly, by getting the ground well treated in the spring and into the summer months, it will be near to impossible for any new adults to come around and start new nests. That’s because the Cypermethrin is highly repellent to cicada killers and will keep them away from the treated area. And this repellency is important because cicada killers can “smell” where other nests have been. That means foraging males in your neighborhood will no doubt find your yard once the old scent is noticeable (which happens as spring turns to summer).

In the end, any yard that has a history of cicada killer problems should be treated in the summer, fall and early winter. Equally important will be getting early spring treatments.

And these treatments should be done monthly targeting the ground where the activity has been noted.

Hope this helps!

Here are direct links to the information and products listed above:

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

Cicada Killers: http://www.bugspray.com/articles99/cicadakillers.html

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