Our Latest Catch in the Des Moines Area | Cicada Killer

Catch of the Week: Cicada Killer Wasps

August 11, 2017

This summer we've had a lot of calls to get rid of cicada killer wasps. Our most recent job was a call to a Des Moines area home that was experiencing an unusual number of these wasps. Despite their name, the cicada killer wasp is actually not harmful to humans unless they are disturbed or fear that their nest is in danger.

How Is the Cicada Killer Wasp Different From Other Wasp Species?

The cicada killer wasp is the largest wasp species found in Iowa, measuring up to two inches long. Its appearance is similar to a yellow jacket wasp because it has yellow and black stripes on its abdomen, but the cicada killer also has a rusty-brown color on its head and thorax.

This species is a solitary type, meaning they do not live in a hive or a colony with other wasps. Instead, they dig individual "nests" for their young to hatch. They are best-known for their unique eating habits, which is how they got their name. In July and August, females will seek out cicadas, then paralyze them with their venomous sting. The wasp will bring the paralyzed victim back the nest and bury it with an egg. Once it has hatched, the larva feeds off of the paralyzed cicada.

Detecting a Cicada Killer Wasp Infestation

While you're tending to your garden this summer, keep an eye out for sizable amounts of dirt that looks like it's been dug up. Their mounds are created while they are burying their eggs and are usually found in a U-shape figure. Cicada killer wasps usually like to dig their nests in loose, sand-like soil, so it's easiest to spot these pests near your flower beds. If you see a cicada killer wasp or their unique nests in your backyard, it might be best to seek help from a professional.

Fast Facts About Cicada Killer Wasps

  • There are five different species of cicada killer wasps found in the U.S.
  • Cicada killers are generally not harmful to humans.
  • Female cicada killers can dig their nests as deep as 24 inches below the surface.
  • The wasps will never return to their nest after it is buried.
  • Only male cicada killer wasps make the loud buzzing sound that you associate with wasps, and only the female wasps have stingers.

Pest Control for the Des Moines Area

If the problem this Des Moines area homeowner experienced sounds familiar, Preferred Pest can take care of it. Our exterminators perform bee and wasp removal services, and offer prevention plans with the Groundforce Pest Service Plan. If you're dealing with a wasp infestation, call Preferred Pest today at (515) 415-5550 or schedule an appointment online.

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