4954 N. Shamrock Place, Tucson, AZ 85705

Cicada Killer Wasp

Sphecius speciosus

Cicada Killer Wasp

Life Cycle

Complete metamorphosis
Adults emerge from the soil in summer.  Males and females will feed, mate and begin making small burrows about 6 inches deep in the soil surface preparing for when the female lays her eggs.  The female will search for cicadas in or near trees.  They will sting the cicada causing paralysis then drag the cicada or multiple cicadas into one burrow, lay one egg, then seal burrow so development can occur.  The larva will begin feeding after hatching 2-3 days later.  Approximately a week later pupation is initiated and continues through the winter until the adult emerges the following June.  One generation each year.


  • Diet: Adults feed on flower nectar.
  • Activity: Adults active during summer months.
  • Preferred Climate: Warm temperatures.
  • Defense: Warning colorations and size.
  • Cautions: Females burrowing in the same area forming aggregations can be a nuisance. Females will sting if provoked.
  • Home Invasion: Bare ground clear of vegetation is most susceptible of being used for burrowing.

Helpful Hints

  • Properly fertilize and water lawns promoting healthy turf.
  • Targeted insecticide treatment may be necessary if larger populations, aggregations occur to prevent the possibility of being stung.

Interesting Facts

Cicada wasps are one species of over 130 that are digger wasps.


Bee stings can produce different reactions, ranging from temporary pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction.

Nesting Sites

  • Typically in dry areas
  • Under long grass/weeds or under growing flowers