Asked August 2, 2017, 6:31 PM EDT

I live in the Glenmary subdivision in Southern Jefferson County. Currently we are having a serious infestation of Cicada Wasps in several of our common area shrubbery beds. The wasps are digging holes all over the mulched beds and are swarming around these areas in large numbers. We have noticed that they seem to be particularly bad around the Gold Mop Cypress plants that were planted this year. Can you shed any light on this problem and what are possible solutions to control of these insects?. John Nininger, 10223 Glenmary Farm Dr. Louisville, KY 40291

Jefferson County Kentucky

1 Response

Cicada killer wasps can be intimidating because of their large size. Females have stingers that enable them to paralyze cicadas before placing them in burrows they have dug in loose soil. However, they are not aggressive and do not have nest-guarding instinct of honey bees and hornets. When attacked, females will use their stinger to protect themselves. Males lack stingers but are territorial. They will approach anything that enters “their area”, including walkers, people mowing or using weed-eaters, or riding tractors. They may hover and challenge trespassers but are harmless.

If they are more than a nuisance (as I assume) these insects can be controlled 2 ways. The cicada killer look for sparse, sandy soil to provision their offspring, so thickly planted areas can deter them and could dissuade these wasps from burrowing. It sounds as if this is not an option. Chemical control may be desired to remove any chance of stinging. Carbaryl (Sevin) applied to burrowed areas, following label directions for turf pests, can reduce infestations.


Detailed information on cicada killer wasps is here:

Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!

Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
200 Juneau Drive

Louisville KY 40243