How much does it cost to exterminate cicada killer?

National Average Range:
$150 - $400

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Updated: August 19, 2022

Reviewed by Irene Pomares remodeling expert. Written by

To provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date cost figures, we gather information from a variety of pricing databases, licensed contractors, and industry experts.

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 wasps ranges between $150 and $400, with the average homeowner spending around $350 on a one-time visit each year to treat cicada killers. This includes ongoing insecticide treatments to address any current infestation and prevent any future inhabitation. On the low end, home treatment with boiling water costs you $0, while monthly treatment over a one-year period could be as much as $600.

Cicada Killer Control

Cost to Exterminate Cicada Killer
National average cost$350
Average range$150-$400

Cicada Killer Extermination Cost by Frequency

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.

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.

Professionals charge $250 to $550 for one-time cicada killer treatment and $600 to $800 for quarterly ongoing pest control services (which encompass more than just cicada killers). These services include an inspection, treatment, and nests eradication. Monthly treatments are available by some providers for an annual cost of $500 to $850. This largely consists of checking for new cicada killers and applying treatment only if needed. Almost all exterminators in areas where cicada killers live offer these services. However, they may offer different pricing or different packages. The most common option is to have an exterminator visit annually in the summer to deal with new cicada killers that have grown into adults.

Annual Cost of One-Time Visit, Monthly Contract, and Quarterly Contract for Cicada Killler Treatments (mobile)

TreatmentCost per Year
One-Time Visit$250 - $550
Monthly Contract$500 - $850
Quarterly Contract$600 - $800

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Cicada Killer Removal by Company

The two largest national companies that handle cicada killer removal are Terminix and Orkin. Both companies offer a guarantee so you can have additional services provided for free if the cicada killers return after they have been eliminated from your lawn. While these businesses do much of the same work, they have some differences.

Orkin cicada killers services depend on the situation and location of the wasps. Since cicada killers burrow in the ground, a pesticide is used to treat the holes. The Orkin technician is trained to handle cicada wasps and similar insects. However, since every lawn and home is different, a special treatment plan will be created to ensure the right process is taken for your situation. Treatment by Orkin costs $500 to $650, but this varies based on location and infestation size. A free inspection is also included with the visit.

Terminix cicada killers services are designed to make the yard near your home safer by eliminating this species of wasp. The company also offers a free inspection to determine what kind of pest is causing problems at your property. The same process of adding pesticide is used by this company to kill any cicada killers located in nests. Since these wasps do not have nests in trees, the process can be more streamlined than when dealing with other types of wasps. A homeowner can expect to pay around $550 to $700 for treatment from Terminix.

Average Cost for a Single Visit of Orkin and Terminix for Cicada Killer Removal (mobile)

Pest Control CompanyTreatment Cost (Single Visit)
Orkin$300 - $500
Terminix$350 - $550

Cicada Killer Treatment Types

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.

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.

Comparison of the Different Types of Cicada Killer (mobile)

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

Sphecius 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, Colombia, Paraguay, French Guiana, and Surinam. These wasps are difficult to identify by sight but easier to identify based on their habitat and behavior.

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. Knowing what cicada killer wasps look like, how long they live, what they eat, and how they live make it easier to determine if a homeowner has an infestation at their home.

In terms of appearance, cicada killers are large at about two inches long and have a black, dark brown, or red thorax. Males tend to be slightly smaller than females. These wasps also have a yellow stripe that goes around the abdomen. Other characteristics that make it easier to identify cicada killers are their brownish-orange wings and bulging large red eyes.

Cicada killer wasps have a lifespan of less than a year. Cicada killers start as an egg laid on a paralyzed cicada that has been moved into the nest by a female wasp. When the egg hatches, the larva comes out and feeds on the cicada, which is alive but remains paralyzed. The insect continues to develop until it is an adult in the late spring or early summer. At that time, adult females mate, feed, and build new burrows and nests before hunting cicadas and laying eggs.

When a cicada killer is a larva, it feeds on cicadas or other insects. An adult feeds on large plants, tree sap, and flower nectar. Females also hunt insects to take back to the burrow for the young once they hatch from an egg.

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 inches in length. Females are twice the size of males and have a long stinger that contributes to their unsightly appearance. The stinger alone adds up to 1.5 inches to the size of a female cicada killer.

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.

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Where Do Cicada Killers 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. 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 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 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.

Where Do Cicada Killers Nest?

Cicada killer wasps are solitary rather than social, so they often nest in several nests in the same location but do not live together like other wasps or bees. They build nests outside rather than in houses. In most cases, the nest (also known as a burrow) is dug in light textured dry soil that experiences good sunlight. Cicada killers dig tunnels where they lay eggs to create a new generation of insects in the following year. The opening might be only 1-1/2 inches in size but runs for 12 to 18 inches at a depth of 5 to 10 inches. The nest included several cells away from the main tunnel where eggs are kept. Secondary tunnels are sometimes created to allow room for even more larva within the burrow.

Are Cicada Killers 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 stinger.

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.

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. In addition to soil damage, cicada killers can also destroy the roots of plants and cause damage in that way. 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 Resting on Top of a Dry Leaf

What Attracts Cicada Killers?

Certain characteristics of a location make it more attractive to cicada killer wasps. For instance, they prefer well-drained soil with a light texture in sunlight. It is also attractive to cicada killers to be near trees filled with cicadas. Cicada killers dig near patio edges, sidewalks, lawns, flower beds, and gardens that offer these features. The insects will then move into the ground, which can cause mounds of dirt and damaged grass.

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 Green 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 its 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.

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Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Level of danger. Cicada killers are not dangerous. Since 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.
  • 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.
  • Cicada killer season. Over the winter, cicada killers spend time in a burrow dug from the year before. In spring, the grubs grow older and continue to grow. It is typically the late spring or early summer when cicada killers come out of the burrow. They build burrows, lay eggs, and die before the cycle starts again the next year.
  • DIY. There are some DIY methods to handle cicada killers, such as cutting your grass on a higher setting and adding thick layers of mulch to any flower beds where cicada killer wasps are prevalent. However, a professional exterminator can take other steps to get the pests out of your lawn in the long term.
  • Pet safe cicada killer control. Most professional exterminators have pet-safe methods of removing these insects from your lawn. These are often organic and natural solutions placed inside the tunnels where the cicada killers spend much of their time. Ask the exterminator about whether their methods are safe for pets.
  • Signs of cicada killer. Several signs may indicate an infestation of cicada killers. For instance, small dirt mounds of two to five inches can be a sign. Holes the size of a finger at the bottom of a mound of dirt are another sign. Nests are often found in dry locations or under flowers, grass, and weeds but the ground where the cicada killers are located may feel mushy. In addition, there may be U-shaped tunnels in a lawn with loose soil near the entrance.


  • What are cicada killers?

Cicada killer wasps are a type of insect tasked with controlling the population of cicadas each year. These wasps are fairly large at about two inches long and black with yellow markings and amber wings.

  • 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 harmful 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.