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Large wasps destroy lawn, bring headaches

Each summer in July since we moved into our house, we have been battling unwanted wasps in our yard.

When we first saw them, my husband and I commented that they were the largest wasps we had ever seen. We soon found out we had what’s known as cicada killer wasps.

From what we have found, cicada killers burrow nests underground. The wasps prey on cicadas, paralyze them with a sting and then bring them back to the nest cell. Cicada killers put anywhere from one to three cicadas in each cell, and then the female deposits an egg into the cell.

After the eggs hatch, the larvae feeds on the cicadas and then go through a pupation process.

Though the research we have done shows that they are relatively harmless, but in the meantime they are destroying my yard.

What makes these wasps so bad — at least for me — is that they have made mounds anywhere from four inches to eight inches wide. One or two mounds is not too bad, but imagine 20 mounds. That’s how our yard looked last week — and that was just one side of our yard, including near some flower beds!

We’ve researched ways to get rid of them online, and in the past have gone through multiple bottles of ammonia that we have poured down the holes in each mound. Nothing has worked!

When I got home from work one day last week, I found my husband was trying to take matters into his own hands. With a shoe in hand he began swatting at the wasps. Over a two-day span, he had killed 12 of them.

He watered down the mounds that they make, sprayed each with Sevin dust and then later that night sprayed each mound with a separate liquid wasp killer.

For a few days after that, only one or two new fresh mounds were visible in the morning, and it’s unclear if the old mounds are still being used.

We called a pest control company, and the man I talked with said he wasn’t sure it would be worth it for them to come spray because they are only around for a week or two more this year. But what I’m worried about is next year. If each year it seems like the number of mounds in our yard doubles, then what can we expect to happen next year?

It’s a scary thought.

Apparently, the cicada killers like dry lawns, so I guess I need to start watering and fertilizing my lawn. If anyone else has any tips, please send them my way!


Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Albert Lea Tribune.