Friday, June 11, 2010

Are you seeing holes in your lawn?

I've been getting calls about small holes in people's lawns that are surrounded by the piled up dirt from the hole. These holes are most likely caused by cicada killers, a type of solitary wasp.

Cicada killers are large wasps reaching a length of about 1.5 inches. The wasps have a reddish-brown head and thorax and a black and yellow marked abdomen. The wings are brownish.

Since the wasps are so large, people are often worried about their sting. Females are capable of stinging, males are not. Males are territorial and will often fly near humans walking through an area; this could be to intimidate you and have you get out of their territory or it could be that they need to check if you are a female cicada killer ready to mate. Either way, if you keep to your business they will keep to theirs. Females, while capable of stinging, are not aggressive.

Females dig burrows in the ground where they take cicadas that they paralyze with their sting. The cicadas are placed into chambers off of the main burrow and then an egg is laid in the chamber. When the egg hatches, the larvae consumes the cicada(s) provided for them.

Control really isn't necessary for these wasps.