If you're a cicada, they are. But, of course, if you were a cicada you wouldn't be reading this right now. Right? So the answer is no, cicada killer wasps are not dangerous--not to you. In fact, as wasps go, they are one of the least dangerous wasps out there.
If the question above was, "Are cicada killer wasps scary?" The answer would be a resounding yes. When you see a wasp crawling on your porch screen that looks like it could carry your cat away, that can be pretty intimidating. And it doesn't help that cicada killer wasps look a little bit like yellow jackets--a wasp that can be very dangerous to people. But don't let these 1-inch, yellow jacket-look alike wasps fool you, they're a bunch of teddy bears. That is, of course, unless you sit on one, or put your hand on one. If you accidentally bring this wasp into contact with your body, you could get stung. And it is unpleasant.
Most of the time, cicada killer wasps are too busy attacking cicada, and bringing them back to their nest to feed their young, to pay any attention to humans. Occasionally, they will attack other cicada killer wasps as they compete for this food source, but that is about it. That makes this a wasp not nearly as beneficial as other wasps that help to control damaging pests like caterpillars. They do, however, help to reduce damages that cicadas cause. If you have deciduous trees in your yard (these are elm, ash, maple, chestnut, and oak) they will be healthier with fewer cicada around. But, in general, cicadas are only a threat to young saplings.
If the question above was, "Are cicada killer wasps dangerous to my yard?" That would also be a yes. While it is certainly unnerving to have giant wasps buzzing around, the real reason to get rid of these pests is because they dig tunnels to establish their nests. When they do, they can excavate a considerable amount of sand, dirt, or soil. The holes may be dug along stone walkways or littered throughout an entire lawn. This can make your lawn look like a mole moved in. This tunneling can also damage the root system of your lawn and created patches of dead grass.
Another point that should be made when examining whether or not cicada killer wasps are dangerous is to take into consideration the sex of the wasp. Male cicada killer wasps, like male carpenter bees, do not have the ability to sting. And, also like male carpenter bees, male cicada killers are quite aggressive. Maybe it is their lack of a stinger that makes them feel like they have to prove themselves. Who can say for sure?
Bear in mind that cicada killer wasps are not social wasps like yellow jackets or paper wasps. If they establish a nest in your yard, you don't have to worry about these wasp grouping together and swarming you. Males of this species will act aggressively if they determine that you are a threat but, as we've already said, they are unable to sting. So, their bark is worse than their bite.
Since cicada killer wasps are primarily a lawn pest, accidental contact can occur if you walk barefoot in your yard. If you've seen these wasps around, it is wise to have a pest control company do an inspection and fully remove them before you or your children walk around in your yard without footwear.
Last, but not least, it is important to understand that cicada killer wasps can present more of a danger as their population grows. Each female wasp on your property will produce many tunnels, displacing as much as 100 cubic inches of dirt. Each of their tunnels can have a dozen larvae, and as many as 40% of those developing larvae will become another cicada killer wasp in your yard.
If you're in our Tennessee service area, reach out to us. Russell's Pest Control has been providing industry-leading pest control services for residents and business owners in East Tennessee for more than 40 years. Let us assist you in protecting your home and your family from all of the many pests we have here in Tennessee, including the cicada killer wasp.
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