5 Interesting Facts About Cicada Killer Wasps In New Jersey

Have you noticed big wasps on your property lately? If so, you’re not alone. In recent days, Arrow Pest Control has received reports from property owners in Little Silver, Chatham, and Tinton Falls as well as throughout our multi-county service area regarding cicada killer wasps. Whether in the backyard, by the pool, or making BBQs less enjoyable, these wasps are out in force and will continue to be a problem for a while longer. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at this particular stinging insect in New Jersey.

cicada killer wasp nesting outside of a new jersey home

They're wasps, not bees 

Before we share a few interesting facts about these cicada killers, we thought it wise to address the confusion surrounding cicada killer wasps and whether or not they are actually wasps or bees. The fact is cicada killers are large black and yellow wasps and not bees.

What do cicada killer wasps look like?

We promise the interesting stuff is coming but before we get to it, let’s take a brief pause to make sure everyone knows what these insects look like. New Jersey is home to several stinging insects and so it doesn’t really surprise us that homeowners don’t always know what’s buzzing about their property. If you’re concerned that you might have this pest on your property, look for large wasps (females are approximately two-inches long) with black and pale-yellow bodies, brownish-colored wings, and red or orange legs.

Cicada killer wasps facts

They're solitary wasps

Cicada killer wasps are solitary wasps that nest in individual burrows underground whereas social wasps such as yellow jackets and paper wasps build communal nests that house hundreds of stinging insects.

They are not cicadas, but they kill them

Cicada killer wasps, as their name suggests, are wasps that prey on and kill cicadas. They start by paralyzing the insect, carrying it to an underground burrow, and laying its eggs under the cicada’s legs. When the babies hatch, they feed off the cicada.

A female can determine the sex of larvae

Interestingly (or oddly, you decide) enough, females can determine the sex of her larvae and do so in order to ensure that more females are born than males. This is necessary for the survival of the species.

Cicada killer wasps are "gentle giants"

Unlike other types of wasps that are easily provoked (here’s looking at you, yellow jackets), cicada killer wasps are not easily annoyed and rarely sting. Males cannot sting at all but may try to intimidate by coming in close to the face.

They are not harmless though

While cicada killer wasps are not considered a threat to human health, the same cannot be said for properties they infest. As you read earlier, these wasps build their nests underground and though they are solitary insects (meaning one wasp per nest), it is very common to have several burrows develop on one lawn or property.

Cicada killer wasps prefer nesting sites that are well-drained, in full sunlight, and close to trees where cicada (the bugs) dwell. Common nesting spots include, but are not limited to:

  • Along sidewalks and patios
  • Driveway edges
  • Sandy areas around playgrounds
  • Flower beds
  • Lawns
  • Gardens

The extensive tunnels they create often displaces soil and can leave a yard looking unsightly. More than that, their efforts also disrupt root systems and may attract wildlife that enjoy feeding on cicadas and wasp larvae.

What to do if you find cicada killer wasps on your property

There’s a good chance, that if cicadas are around, you’ll see cicada killer wasps as well. Since there’s no way to actually stop the arrival of these big wasps, your only recourse is to treat them once they show up.

At Arrow Pest Control, we offer cicada killer wasp treatments in Montclair, Paramus, and Elizabeth as well as throughout our service area that not only address the wasps themselves but the holes they create.

For relief from cicada killer wasps or for help getting rid of other stinging insects, our locally owned and family-operated NJ pest control company is the best choice; schedule a free home evaluation today!

This blog was originally published September 11, 2017; it has been updated to include the most up-to-date information about cicada killer wasps in New Jersey. 
Deb C.


‟All the professional qualities a business such as Arrow Pest Control would expect a service technician to exhibit, Brian, effortlessly presented. From my standpoint, he offered GOLD STAR ”
Deb C.
Jackson, NJ
Arrow Pest Control received an average rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars from 1380 reviews. 5.0 Read Google Reviews

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