Cicada Killer Wasp

Actual Size: 1 ½”

Characteristics: Large, black abdomen with yellow markings and amber wings

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Inhabit cicada-heavy areas. They tunnel underground, leaving a U-shaped appearance in the soil.


  • Cicada killer wasp larvae feed on the paralyzed cicadas
  • Despite their menacing appearance, they aren’t very aggressive and not likely to sting
  • If they do sting, their venom is mild and not as painful as more social wasps

Cicada Killer Wasps in Central Florida

Cicada killer wasps are one of the largest wasp species in North America. Despite their menacing name and appearance, cicada killers aren’t a huge threat to humans. The same cannot be said for cicadas. Female wasps often attack cicadas in flight, sting them until they become paralyzed and take them back to the nest to feed her larvae. 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. They prefer areas in full sun and of course, will gravitate toward areas with cicadas.

Cicada Killer Wasp Nests & Habitat

Cicada killer wasps are active here in Central Florida in late June or July and are mostly seen visiting flowers or digging burrows in sandy or light soil. They do not like wet 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 any potential intruders.

Cicada Killer Wasps Behavior & Dangers

Thankfully, cicada killers are not very aggressive and rarely sting humans or pets unless they are disturbed or threatened. Males are aggressive and territorial but do not possess a stinger. The only sting would be from a female cicada killer wasp. 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 notice their activity in or near your property, contact your local wasp removal experts.