The Deadly Cicada Killer

Ok, so here’s an insect that is about 2 inches long, as thick as your thumb, looks and sounds like a mini Black hawk helicopter so what’s not to be afraid of? I mean even its name triggers our worst fears.


cicada killer catches her prey Now add to that about 250 of them flying around your yard at low levels like humming birds on steroids and most people run for the hills!

Each year exterminators from Colorado to New York city get frantic calls regarding these invasions and most often the caller is disappointed by what they’re told. Control measures are very limited when it comes to the cicada killer and most bug guys won’t tackle the job. Instead they tell you that this huge beast is relatively harmless and should be left alone. I don’t know how many times I’ve told someone this and before I know it the phone goes silent and I just know their finger is quickly dialing another number from the book looking for help. The truth is, there is very little you can do.

Things that don’t work

I don’t have any scientific data to back this up but these are things I’ve tried to get rid of the cicada killer but didn’t work.


  • Yard sprays
  • dusting each hole
  • yard foggers
  • bug zappers
  • citronella candles
  • packing dirt back in holes
  • granules
  • tennis rackets (but not for very long–they get mad)
  • cicada killer climbing on hand pestcemetery.comAbout the only thing that will deter them is a nice thick turf as they tend to like sparse and open sandy areas. Cicada killers also come back to the same area each year so once they’ve chosen your yard I’d be breaking out the fertilizer. Cicada killers gather each year by the hundreds in a large group called a Lek. Kind of a big mating party and when they are done the female usually begins to dig her burrow not to far away. This is where she’ll lay her eggs in chambers on a cicada that she has caught, paralyzed and drug down into the hole. Thankfully this frenzied activity only lasts a week or two but underground the eggs hatch in just a few days and the cycle is reborn. The larva eat the cicada and then spin a silken cocoon in which they’ll pupate in over the winter. Adults emerge in late June to July and you guessed it, a Lek party and it’s back to your yard.

    Now as exterminators it is our job to try and educate as much as possible and over the years I have demonstrated that this huge wasp is of no harm. I have walked through the buzzing hordes and even had them land on my outstretched hand all the while the lady of the house is shrieking from behind the closed kitchen window. Nothing seems to soothe the fear that these creatures conjure up and if I’m asked once, the harmless cicada killer pestcemetery.comI’m asked 1000 times; “Are you sure there is nothing you can do?” Being licensed in lawn spraying I agree to begin a fertilizer program to thicken the yard so as to discourage next years Lek. I also smile as I show her the receipt and circle ‘insect treatment included’ and even though I’ve gone to great lengths to persuade the lovely lady of the house it is only then that she sighs and shows any sign of relief.


About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Cat

    If I put out strong powerful work lights will this attract and fry these killer bees that are tormenting my pets and kids when they go outside?

  • I like your imagination- but no, bright lights won’t have any effect. Sorry.

  • Dave

    Tennis rackets work great! Three years, never stung. Plus at night pour boiling water and/or ammonia down the wholes. Both kill at least the cicada killer (not sure about the larva yet – will need to watch over a couple years before I’m certain of the impact. I’ve killed over 50 so far this summer and destroyed about 35-40 nests.

  • so the score is 50 – love?