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.


  • Cicada killer wasp larvae feed on the paralyzed cicadas.
  • Instead of hives or nests, they burrow.
  • Usually found near cicada-heavy populations.

Cicada Killer Wasps in Bristol

Cicada killer wasps are one of the largest wasp species in the nation. Despite their frightening name, cicada killer wasps are really only dangerous for cicada populations. 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 nation but have a big presence here in Tennessee. 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 Habitat

Cicada killer wasps appear as adults in late June or July and are mostly seen visiting flowers or digging burrows in sandy or light soil. 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. In the meantime, the female wasp will paralyze the cicada, carry it down into the burrow, and bury it along with her eggs.

Cicada Killer Wasp Behaviors & Dangers

Despite what their name suggests, 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.

Cicada killers can be a nuisance if they are found on your property. 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 are dealing with a cicada killer wasp problem, contact your local wasp removal experts for help.