Because wasps are more common in the summer, it's natural to be concerned if you see them close to your home. This article examines one common wasp type called cicada killers and explains what you should know about these pests.
They kill cicadas when laying eggs
There are several species of cicada-killing wasps in North America, and all of them actually live on cicadas, the noisy cricket species you may hear in the trees. The female wasp hunts down cicadas, before taking them to a burrow in the ground. Once there, the female wasp traps and paralyzes its prey by stinging it. The wasp then lays an egg in the cicada, which hatches into a larva. This larva eats the cicada, builds a cocoon around it and eventually hatches into a mature wasp. It may sound grisly, but many wasps prey on other insects in this manner.
Cicada killers have special markings
In terms of shape, cicada killers look like other large wasp species, especially the European wasp. However, there's an easy way to identify these bugs, because they have very dark markings. Instead of the bright yellow bands that most wasps have, they have thick, dark bands that leave room for yellow splotches on their backs. This makes identification fairly easy, as long as you can see the wasp when it has landed.
They thrive in backyards
These insects look for places where their prey is plentiful. This means they favor drier, open areas with plenty of sunlight, that are adjacent to trees with well drained, easy-to-dig soils. In other words, cicada killers lurk in backyards, flower beds and grassy areas, which is why homeowners frequently encounter them. However, just because you see a few buzzing in your yard doesn't mean that a nest is present.
Cicada killers aren't dangerous
In most circumstances, identifying these wasps is a cause for relief. They are non-aggressive and stay to themselves in their small, single-wasp burrows. Pets and kids may be stung by one, but only if they accidentally step on or trap one. You may run into them when digging into a flowerbed as well. Compared to other easily offended wasps that can build large nests and cause far more trouble on your property, these bugs are fairly harmless. An important exception is if you have a play area, sand box or another similar area for children. These insects love to burrow, and this presents some concern for children in play areas. Inspect-All Services can help you get rid of these wasps by treating cicada problems and creating a reduction plan.