Our gardens and homes often attract a range of insect life. Some of it is welcome and some of it is not. One insect that is often not welcome, usually as a result of a misunderstanding, is the cicada wasp. Cicada wasp is the name given to a number of digger wasps that feed on cicadas. They are also sometimes called sand hornets even though the insect is not a hornet at all. The cicada wasp is one of the largest species of wasp and can appear to be pretty fearsome, which is part of its defense. In reality, only the female can sting and will only do so when provoked. It is better to be careful and not aggravate the wasp though.
If you think your garden is suffering from an infestation of cicada wasps, call Richland Pest and Bee Control to learn about their potential effects on your environment, as well as how to exterminate the infestation and prevent future ones.
As the name suggests, the cicada wasp uses the cicada to incubate its young. It hunts these insects in the deciduous trees the cicada lives in. Since cicadas can become a serious problem and can cause substantial damage to heavily infested trees, the cicada wasp is a useful insect to have around. They are an excellent source of population control for cicadas.
The adult cicada wasp does not actually feed on the cicada that are caught. The adult cicada wasp feeds on nectar and plant sap.
The cicada wasp is a solitary insect and does not build hives like many of its cousins. Instead the female will dig a burrow in well ventilated soil and lay her eggs in the protected confines of her burrow. They favor sandy soil and loose clay and are not averse to burrowing through grass or next to pathways. They prefer areas that are exposed to plenty of sun as this helps with the egg incubation.
She will hunt cicadas in the nearby trees and deposit her eggs within the cicada which is paralyzed by her venom. When the eggs hatch the larvae feed on the cicada and then move on to other cicada their mother has stockpiled within the nest until they reach maturity. Each egg is placed on a single cicada and closed into its own nest chamber. Females are provided with more than one cicada while males are only given one.
Since the cicada wasp relies on the cicada to incubate its young, they have timed their life cycle to coincide with that of the cicada. If you hear cicada about you can be almost certain that there are cicada wasps in the vicinity. If there are none yet, there soon will be.
The male wasp is extremely territorial and may be seen grappling with other male wasps for possession of a particular territory. This is often mistakenly assumed to be dangerous behavior, but the male wasp does not present any danger to humans or their pets as they are not able to sting.
It is not uncommon for an area to become infested with cicada wasps if there is an abundant supply of cicada nearby in addition to food for the adult wasp. Since each female will dig her own burrow (they share burrows only in rare circumstances) the damage to your lawn may be extensive. Any area that is exposed to the sun and has an acceptable variety of soil is a potential nesting site.
The burrows can cause damage to the grass and an extensive infestation may kill the lawn off. They may also do damage to the roots of plants that they burrow near or under.
Many people are nervous of having the cicada wasp in their gardens for fear of children and pets being stung. Though this is unlikely due to the placid nature of the wasp, it’s still a possibility.
The best way to prevent a cicada wasp infestation is to keep your eye on the cicada population and to watch for the beginnings of a burrow. If you see the tell tale sand piles on your lawn you should contact a specialist at Richland Pest and Bee Control in CT to remove the wasps safely before the female mates and starts to lay eggs. Once there is a single nest and a single nest hatches you are going to have a much bigger problem. A single cicada wasp can turn into hundreds within a few short years due to the number of eggs laid.
If you do detect cicada wasps in your garden and are concerned for the safety of your children and pets then you should contact the CT-based pest control company, Richland Pest & Bee Control, as soon as possible. Early detection is the best prevention for a cicada wasp infestation. It is important that you do not try to remove the wasp yourself. Although it is a generally placid wasp it will sting if it is handled roughly or stood on or feels that its nest is being threatened