Cicada Killer Wasps may look fierce with their large size but they are nothing about which to be concerned. These harmless wasps feed on tree sap and flower nectar as individual adults. Females, who do have a mild sting but are not considered painful, fly around trees, shrubs, meadows and open areas in search of their only prey species the Cicada. Males in fact do not even have a stinger and are merely faking a fierce attack with their “dive – bombing” tactics. Both sexes are strikingly colored black, red and yellow which is similar to the warning coloration of common social wasps like yellow jackets.

A month long pupation in June leads to adult emergence in July, completing the life cycle. Emergence overlaps with the main availability of the food supply for their nests. This next generation of adults will dig tunnels, capture Cicadas and live two to three months from July to September. Female adults often dig their tunnels in a backyard sandbox, a sand trap on the golf course or in a nice sandy picnic area outdoors. Lawns, gardens, flower beds and athletic fields are other preferred nesting sites.

Control measures are seldom required because Cicada Killer Wasps rarely sting people and only fly as adults for less than two months. If wasp numbers are high or the nests are located in a particularly sensitive area, several control methods have proven successful. – Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension.