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.
WHERE ARE 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. Periodical Cicadas will be most active every 7-13 years but the green Annual Cicadas will be out and about every year. Cicada killer populations will vary depending on the hatch or release of Annual cicadas. In general, the more cicadas, the more cicada killers.
CICADA KILLERS WILL NEST 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.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds) will give you the summary of what to expect if you have cicadas or cicada killers nesting on your property.
As explained in the video above, treating activity as soon as you see it developing is ideal so they’re numbers don’t get too high. Treatments can be done with the aerosol below but ideally, using the Liquid will get you the best long term control. The method you choose will largely depend 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.
LIQUID TREAT THE TURF FOR THEIR WHITE GRUBS
The second treatment option is to use a liquid concentrate although you won’t find one that specifically lists “cicada killers”. That being said, we do have a product labeled for white grubs (cicada killer larvae are white) and its labeled for use in turf for broad cast applications. For nests down in the ground you miss, this will control their larva.
Known as PROTHOR, its what we call a non-repellent. What this means is that insects moving through the Prothor won’t notice it but in a few days, they’ll be affected. Watering it into the soil will reach hatching larvae late summer and fall and end their activity before you have a major problem in the future.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) shows how to apply it using our Green Topped Sprayer but the Yellow sprayer seen below is the better option. Use it exactly the same as you’ll learn in this video to apply Prothor.
Prothor is an excellent turf product for pest like grubs and for keeping your yard happy and healthy.
Use it at .5 oz per gallon per 1000 sq/ft.
HOW TO TREAT HIDDEN CICADA KILLER NESTS FOR LONG TERM CONTROL
Now if you’re unsure where all the nests are located (which can happen when they burrow in mulch or under bushes), still use the Prothor in our HOSE END SPRAYER.
This sprayer will broadcast the treatment over a large area and will get the job done quickly.
Add 2.5 oz of Prothor to the sprayer and then some water so it fills up to the line of the side of the tank that says 5 gallons. Use this amount over an area of 1,000-2000 sq/ft.
We don’t recommend using a hose end that utilizes a “dial” to suck out the active. Instead, a hose end like our 20 GALLON HOSE END is best as it works via a siphon and does a great job.
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 FOR IMMEDIATE CONTROL
No doubt the fastest results and quickest killing action can be achieved by dusting active holes with DEMIZE 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.
Demize goes a long way. The small 3.5 oz jar is enough to treat 25-50 nests and the 6 oz jar is enough to treat 100+ nests.
Demize works as a desiccant 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 2-3 heavy puffs of Demize so you’ll only be able to treat 10+ holes per filling of the Hand Duster. Demize 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 Demize covers them, they’ll be dead within a few minutes.
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 Demize is 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 Demize can effectively diffuse these scents which will prevent new cicada killers from finding your yard. So for long term protection, dusting with Demize has big advantages.
HOW TO STOP CICADA KILLERS FROM COMING BACK
Remember that cicada killers who have already laid eggs means there is a good chance you will have activity the following year if you don’t treat active nests properly as detailed above. This can happen 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 Demize 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.
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 and 1-2 in the summer with the liquid Prothor below. This non-repelling active won’t be noticed by these “new comers” so they’ll readily pick some up and die before having a chance to start new nests.
So even if you believe you succeeded in killing off previous nests but want to make sure no new nests form, treat the entire yard with PROTHOR once all activity is controlled. This should also be done in the following spring prior to them getting active again.
As explained above, our Prothor uses a slow working active that is great for preventing a range of pests that like to nest in the ground. Commonly used to control lawn grubs, broadcasting it over the grass and mulch will put in place a treatment that will stop all developing insects who might use the treated zone. And since applications will last 3-6 months, its a great way to keep your turf, shrubs and trees healthy.
Using it at a rate of .5 oz per 1,000 sq/ft, treat as much of the yard as you can after controlling the current activity. Prothor will then soak into the ground and kill off developing larvae you miss. This in turn will help keep the yard free of new nests the following year.
The small jug will cover over an acre and should be used once after the current activity is controlled and then again the following spring.
Use this HOSE END SPRAYER to make the treatment.
In summary, the best chance of preventing Cicada killers from returning to your yard is to dust all current holes with Demize and then once the current activity ceases, spray Prothor over the turf to kill off developing grubs. Spray Prothor the following spring too so if new activity starts, the treatment will kill off these new visitors too.
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. On Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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