Cicada Killer Wasps in Florida: What Homeowners Need to Know

Posted by Matthew Rathbone on March 17, 2023 · 3 mins read

If you live in Florida, chances are you’ve seen at least one large wasp flying around your backyard during the summer months. These intimidating insects are known as cicada killer wasps, and despite their size and appearance, they’re actually quite harmless to humans. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these fascinating creatures and provide some tips on how to deal with them.

DIY Wasp removal recommendations

For non aggressive wasps I've had great luck spraying the nests with this Spectracide wasp remover in the evening. For more aggressive wasps I also use this rediculous looking upper torso Beekeeping suit. It seems silly, but trust me, it's amazing.

What Are Cicada Killer Wasps?

Cicada killer wasps are solitary wasps that are native to North America. They are typically 1-2 inches long and have black and yellow markings. Female cicada killer wasps are larger than males and have stingers, but they are not aggressive towards humans and will only sting if they feel threatened.

As their name suggests, cicada killer wasps hunt cicadas. The female wasp will paralyze a cicada with her venomous sting before carrying it back to her underground nest. She will then lay an egg on the cicada before sealing the nest.

Where Do Cicada Killer Wasps Live?

Cicada killer wasps prefer dry, sandy soil for nesting. You’ll often find their nests in areas of your yard that receive full sunlight, such as along the edges of sidewalks or driveways. The female wasp will dig a burrow that can be up to a foot deep, with several branches off the main tunnel. Each branch will have a separate chamber where she will lay her eggs on paralyzed cicadas.

Dealing with Cicada Killer Wasps

While cicada killer wasps are generally harmless to humans, their presence can be unsettling. To discourage them from nesting in your yard, try the following:

  • Keep your lawn well-maintained and avoid bare patches of soil.
  • Avoid using pesticides, which can harm beneficial insects and may not be effective against cicada killer wasps.
  • If you do need to remove a nest, wait until after dark when the wasps are less active. Use a flashlight to locate the nest and wear protective clothing, including gloves, long sleeves, and pants tucked into socks. Use a shovel to carefully remove the nest and relocate it to a natural area away from your home.


Cicada killer wasps are an interesting and important part of the ecosystem, and while they may seem intimidating, they pose little threat to humans. By understanding their behavior and taking a few precautions, you can coexist with these backyard visitors and appreciate the role they play in controlling cicada populations.