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How Much Does It Cost to Exterminate Cicada Killer?

Low
$0
Average Cost
$200
High
$375
(preventative quarterly pest control to address all insects)

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How Much Does It Cost to Exterminate Cicada Killer?

Low
$0
Average Cost
$200
High
$375
(preventative quarterly pest control to address all insects)

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True to their name, cicada killers are solitary wasps that capture and kill cicadas, which are large, harmless insects that make their presence known by buzzing loudly during summer months. When caught by a female cicada killer, the cicada is stung, paralyzed, and then transported into the cicada killer’s burrow to serve as food for new larvae. Cicada killers show little interest in people and pets, but will sting if provoked. Additionally, burrowing can cause yard and patio damage. For these reasons, homeowners often desire professional removal services.

The average cost to exterminate cicada killer wasp ranges between $100-$300, with the average homeowner spending around $200 on preventative quarterly pest control to address all insects. This includes ongoing insecticide treatments to address any current infestation and prevent any future inhabitation.

Cicada Killer Control

Cost to Exterminate Cicada Killer
National average cost$200
Average range$100-$300
Minimum cost$0
Maximum cost$375


Updated:

Cicada Killer Wasp Control Cost by Project Range

Low
$0
Home treatment with boiling water
Average Cost
$200
Preventative quarterly pest control to address all insects
High
$375
One-time treatment for cicada-killer removal, which may need to be repeated

Cicada Killer Extermination Cost

Hiring a professional pest control service is important when addressing a cicada killer infestation for a number of reasons. Firstly, It’s hard to differentiate between types of cicada killers with an untrained eye; hiring a professional ensures the treatment is customized for the type of cicada killer present on the property. It’s important to know that prevention is an essential component of successful treatment; just eliminating the cicada killers doesn’t prevent new wasps from claiming the burrows and continuing to inhabit the property. Also, when pesticides are used, professionals can ensure the safety of the homeowner and any children and pets who play on the property.

Professionals charge an average of $375 for one-time cicada killer treatment and an average of $200 quarterly for ongoing pest control services (which encompass more than just cicada killers). Almost all exterminators in areas where cicada killers live will offer these services, but they may offer different pricing or different packages.

Cicada Killer Wasp Control Chart


TreatmentCost
One-time$375
Quarterly$200


Cicada Killer Control Methods

Although cicada killers avoid people and pets, many homeowners hire a pest control service because they’re bothered by their presence. They’re large, unsightly, and often scary for young children, and they can sting if stepped on or otherwise bothered. Additionally, they leave burrows in the yard that are so large that homeowners often suspect gophers, moles, or other burrowing pests.

Most pest control companies offer a multifaceted approach that includes nest removal, pesticides, and closure of the burrow. These methods are combined to offer an effective solution, so the homeowner will not have to choose between professionals that use different methods, but rather make their decision based on how reliable that professional is and other factors.


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Different Types of Cicada Killer

There are five different species of cicada killers: Eastern, Western, Pacific, Caribbean, and Spectacled. Professional exterminators can assist homeowners in identifying the kind of cicada killer present on their property and customizing the approach for that particular species. The cost of removal is more dependent on the size of the infestation than the type of cicada killer.

  • Eastern Cicada Killer. Sphecius speciosus, or the eastern cicada killer, ranges from 0.6 inches to 2 inches long. They have a black body with yellow stripes on the abdomen and reddish-brown wings. Female eastern cicada killers are larger than males. Eastern cicada killers live in Ontario, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the United States.
  • Western Cicada Killer. Specius grandis or the western cicada killer is a solitary, burrowing wasp like the eastern cicada killer, but its appearance and habitat differ. Ranging from 1-2 inches in length, the western cicada killer is red or amber in color with yellow stripes around its abdomen. These wasps are found in high-altitude geographic regions of Central America and the United States as well as in Mexico. Western cicada killers are especially common in states West of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Pacific Cicada Killer. Because much research on cicada killers needs to be done, little is known to help differentiate between the Pacific cicada killer (sphecius convallis) and the western cicada killer. Both are red in appearance with yellow rings around the abdomen and both live in wetlands and areas of high altitude, although the Western cicada killer is typically found at higher altitudes than the Pacific cicada killer. It typically takes a professional to differentiate between the two.
  • Caribbean Cicada Killer. The Caribbean cicada killer, called sphecius hogardii, is found in Caribbean countries and the state of Florida. These wasps are easier to identify; they have red bodies, brown wings, and all but the populations in the Bahamas have black coloration covering the rear third of the body. This cicada lacks the yellow stripes or bands that other cicadas possess.
  • Spectacled Cicada Killer. Sphecius spectabilis or the spectacled cicada killer makes its home in South American countries like Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Columbia, Paraguay, French Guiana, and Surinam. These wasps are difficult to identify by sight but easier to identify based on their habitat and behavior.

Where Do Cicada Killer Wasps Live

Cicada killers are ground burrowing wasps located throughout North America, South America, and even Europe and can be found in nearly every climate. When looking for areas to burrow and nest, they seek full sunlight, and light-textured, well-drained soil or sand 1. As indicated by their name, they live in climates that house cicadas - their primary prey - and nest near hardwood treats that house cicadas. Burrows start at the surface but are dug as much as foot 2 beneath the surface.

Most common burrowing sites for cicada killers include sandy areas such as playgrounds and sandboxes, slopes with minimal vegetation, lawns with looser soil, sand traps at golf courses, and at the edge or in between the cracks of concrete slabs 3 or pavers.

The pest control process includes removing the cicada wasp nest from the burrow, closing the burrow completely, and then working to make the site less desirable for future cicada killer wasps.

Cicada Killer Size

Cicada killer wasp size is often alarming to homeowners. Cicada killers are much larger than most other species of wasp and many homeowners are uncomfortable around these wasps because of their size alone. The smallest cicada killer wasps, which are the males, are around 0.6 inches while the largest females can exceed 2.0” in length. Females are twice the size of males and have a long stinger that contributes to their unsightly appearance.

Cicada killers are much larger than yellow jackets and comparable in size to murder hornets (Asian giant hornets), which average 1.75” long. Although the insects are around the same size on average, Asian hornets do have the potential to grow slightly larger than cicada killers.

Are Cicada Killer Dangerous?

Generally speaking, cicada killer wasps are not dangerous. Males have no stinger at all, while female cicada killers have a large stinger and, although rare, will sting if stepped on or otherwise provoked. This sting causes substantially less discomfort than a yellow jacket sting that resolves quickly and generally has no lasting effects. Male cicada killers are territorial. If provoked, they may dive at a human or pet, but they pose no risk since they don’t have a stiner.

Although not common, cicada killers can sting pets, who are more likely to have a serious reaction to the sting than humans. For this reason, and to alleviate their own anxiety about the presence of such frightening-looking insects, many homeowners elect pest control to eliminate cicada killers from their property.


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Cicada Killer Damage

There are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, cicada tree damage and cicada damage to plants are common. On the other hand, they help reduce the cicada population, which means they can be beneficial in preventing damage to your trees. At the same time, cicada killers burrow like other yard pests, displacing a substantial amount of soil, causing unsightly holes and mounds, and damaging your yard. Additionally, they can destroy patios made with bricks or pavers by digging up the dirt in the spaces.

Hiring a professional to remove cicada killers from the property and prevent them from returning is the best way to prevent property damage.

Cicada Killer Wasp Facts

The more the homeowner knows about the appearance and behavior of cicada killer wasps, the easier it will be to identify a cicada killer infestation and hire the right professionals for the job. These facts can help differentiate between cicada killers and other common wasps:

  • What they look like. There are many species of cicada killer wasps, but all are large, ranging from 0.6-2 inches in length. Most have a dark brown or red thorax with yellow striping and brown or reddish wings. Females are nearly twice the size of males and have a stinger that extends another 1.5” from their body.
  • Cicada killer’s life cycle. Cicada eating wasps or cicada killers begin as an egg, which is laid on a paralized cicada placed in the nest by a female wasp. When the egg hatches, a larvae emerges and begins feeding on the cicada, which remains paralyzed but living. Development continues until an adult cicada killer emerges mid-summer, and then adult females mate, feed, and build burrows and nests before beginning to hunt cicadas and lay eggs.
  • What they eat. As their name suggests, their larvae feed on cicadas and similar insects, but adults feed on tree sap, large plants, and flower nectar.
  • Cicada killer queens. Because cicada killers are solitary wasps, there is no queen. Females are up to 2” long with a stinger that adds another 1.5” of length. They’re easy to differentiate from males, which are much smaller and lack a stinger.


Cicada killer on a dry leaf


Cicada Killer vs. Japanese Hornet

Cicada killers bear an uncanny resemblance to the Asian giant hornet, leaving many homeowners more afraid of cicada killers than they have in the past. The Asian giant hornet is native to South Korea and Japan and has only been found in Northwestern Washington - not in any other states in the United States. The primary difference in appearance between the two is their head: the Asian giant hornet’s head is wider than it’s thorax while the cicada killer’s head is narrower than the thorax. There is little difference between the two in overall size, although the largest Japanese hornets are slightly larger than the largest cicada killers.

Additionally, cicada killers are not dangerous to humans and in fact, rarely sting humans at all, while the Asian giant hornet (often called a murder hornet or Japanese hornet) not only stings but can be deadly. The Japanese hornet’s sting contains a venom that is particularly painful and dangerous to humans.

How to Prevent Cicada Killers

The best way to prevent cicada killers from making nests on your property is to make your property undesirable for them. That is, since they like well-drained soil, water your lawn often and keep it as hydrated as possible. Since they prefer areas with little to no vegetation, set your mower deck to the highest setting when you mow the lawn; this will ensure ample vegetation and little access to the soil. Adding ample mulch to flower beds can help keep them away, too. Routine use of pesticides that are safe for children and pets can also help.

Managing the cicada population can be helpful in preventing cicada killers from making their home on the property; because they settle where cicadas are readily available, they choose properties that host cicadas. Wrapping sticky traps around the bottom of tree trunks to catch cicadas as they climb, covering plants with netting, and spraying cicadas off of trees and plants with a garden hose are all relatively effective ways to reduce the population.


Cicada killer on a leaf


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Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Cicada killers aren’t dangerous and because they prey on cicadas, which can damage plants and trees on the property, many homeowners choose to live and let cicada killers live. The primary reason to hire an exterminator is to eliminate the fear and anxiety that comes with cicada killer presence.
  • There are all-natural methods for discouraging nesting on your property, such as pouring boiling water down holes at night (as cicada killers are often away from the nest hunting during the day) and then placing a glass bowl over the entrance until morning. Fill in holes the next day. This can help get rid of current cicada killers but won’t prevent new ones from coming. However, if you are looking for an effective method, hiring a professional is the preferred method for eliminating and preventing cicada killer infestations.
  • Locust vs. cicada. Many people confuse locusts and cicadas. Locusts are in the grasshopper family while cicadas are in the cricket family. Cicadas have long, iridescent wings that extend past the length of their bodies while locusts closely resemble a grasshopper; they have high, angular hind legs for hopping and no wings at all. Cicadas are brown or black in color while locusts are bright green. Cicadas do not hop; locusts do.

FAQs

  • How do you stop cicada killer wasps?

Hiring a professional exterminator is the most effective way to get rid of cicada killer wasps and prevent them from returning. One-time cicada killer treatment averages $375, while quarterly cicada killer maintenance averages $200 per quarter.

  • Are cicada killer wasps dangerous to humans?

Cicada killer wasps are not dangerous to humans, but many people hire an exterminator because they’re afraid of them. Their size and resemblance to a yellow jacket make them unwanted guests for many homeowners.

  • Should you kill cicada killer wasps?

Stepping on or swatting at a female cicada killer wasp often results in an uncomfortable sting, whereas cicada killers won’t hurt anyone if left alone. It’s best to hire an exterminator to address the problem.

  • What will kill cicada killers?

Certain chemicals or boiling water will kill cicada killer wasps if the treatment is applied to the right nest or burrow at the right time (typically at night). However, DIY methods are accompanied by many risks, such as the possibility of being stung. A more effective approach is ensuring the property is less desirable for cicada killers. The boiling water method is virtually free, while chemical treatments range from $5 for bleach to $50 for Sylo insecticide.

  • How deep do cicada killers burrow?

Most burrows are approximately one foot beneath the surface of the ground. A single cicada killer can displace several pounds of soil.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Sanding 1 Sand: Process of removing the top surface of a material, such as wood, using sandpaper and/or a specialized sanding machine (for large surface areas)
glossary term picture Footing 2 Foot: A support for the foundation of a house that also helps prevent settling. It is typically made of concrete reinforced with rebar, but can also be made of masonry or brick. It is usually built under a heavier part of the house like a wall or column, to distribute the weight of the house over a larger area.
glossary term picture Concrete Pad 3 Concrete slabs: A flat area of concrete that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as a patio or a driveway

Cost to exterminate cicada killer varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Updated:
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
Cicada killer feeding on ivy flowers
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Cost to exterminate cicada killer varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.