Cicada Killer Wasp

Actual Size: 1 ½”

Characteristics: Large, black abdomen with yellow markings and amber wings

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Prefer areas in full sun, nearby cicada-heavy areas. They tunnel underground, leaving a U-shaped appearance in the soil.


  • Despite their menacing appearance, they aren’t very aggressive and not likely to sting
  • If they do sting, their venom is mild and not as painful as more social wasps
  • They will dig near gardens, and even sandy areas

Cicada Killer Wasps in SE Louisiana and Mississippi

Cicada killer wasps are large in size, with some reaching two inches in length. These unique wasps appear as adults in late June or July and are often seen on flowers or digging burrows in sand or loose soil. They are named after their predatory relationship with cicadas. Female wasps often attack cicadas in flight, sting them until they become paralyzed and take them back to the nest to feed her larvae. Cicada killers are found throughout the U.S., Mexico, and parts of Central America. These wasps dig holes or burrows, preferably in soft, sandy, and well-drained soil. They may be found on sloped terrains, in flower beds, along patio edges or sidewalks, as well as in the yard.

Cicada Killer Wasp Nests

The cicada killer wasp nests in the ground near cicada populations. Frequently, dozens of their burrows are located in lawns and on golf courses. A pile of soil often surrounds the entrance. The male wasp flies guard duty over the lawn, chasing away potential predators. Meanwhile, females burrow into the soil for approximately ten inches, with a channel of about half an inch. Oval chambers are excavated at the end of the burrow, large enough to accommodate a few individual cicadas. The female cicada killer wasp will paralyze a cicada in flight, carry it into the chamber, and leave a couple of eggs and cicadas in a chamber until the eggs hatch.

Cicada Killer Wasp Habits & Dangers

Unlike other wasp species, cicada killers are not very aggressive and rarely sting humans or pets unless they are disturbed. Males are aggressive and territorial but do not possess a stinger. A sting from a cicada killer wasp can be painful and their venom may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

The main concern with cicada killer wasps is the fact that they can disturb lawns with their burrowing habits. Female wasps dig fairly large burrows, making quite a large mess near plants and vegetation. The burrowing behavior of this wasp can damage the roots of plants and make some structures, like walkways and pathways, unstable.  If you notice cicada killer wasp activity, contact your local wasp control experts.