August 30, 2008 12:50 PM   Subscribe

How to get rid of Cicada Wasps?

My wife came in freaking out that we had a cicada wasp in the front lawn. I went out and checked, and found a big mound of dirt with about an inch round hole in the middle, sprayed a boatload of Raid into it, waited, and said "See....nothing there.", and of course the next second this HUGE ass wasp looking thing came crawling out. I sprayed it again, and it just would not frickin die. I finally had to introduce it to Dr. Boot to kill the thing.

From what she says, they are just about impossible to kill/get rid of, lay tons of eggs, and will burrow up your entire lawn if they go unchecked. Some folks resort to dumping gasoline into the nest and lighting it to kill them.

I have used my google-fu and found out every Latin name for them, that the males can't sting, the females can but rarely do, but nothing about how to douse the bastards.

Any suggestions? FWIW I don't care about eco-friendly etc, just a good solution. If it makes any difference, we live in Chicago. I'm not that concerned about the lawn or afraid of them, but the wife and kids are.

Plus, every night I hear cicadas singing and I just wonder if I am going to have a feeding frenzy on my front lawn and have to make a run for the car every morning
posted by timsteil to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Place a rock over the hole.
posted by demon666 at 12:59 PM on August 30, 2008

I grew up in Cicada country. We had a few of those wasps in years the Cicadas were active, but they never got anywhere close to burrowing up the yard. Scary suckers, though. Watching one nail a Cicada in mid-air is awesome.

You're probably at much greater risk (long term) from pesticides than you are from the wasps. Try drowning them by sticking a hose in the hole for a few minutes.
posted by dws at 1:25 PM on August 30, 2008

Best answer: Cicada Killers are a highly beneficial insect.

If not for them and predators like them, in short order you wouldn't be able to sleep at night for the noise in Cicada season, and then the years after that most of your trees would be dead.
posted by jamjam at 1:33 PM on August 30, 2008

Response by poster: While I prefer crickets, I don't mind the sound of cicadas. Plus living two blocks from a Metra line and in the flight path of O'Hare, I've learned to sleep with just about anything.

It's just the wife is freaking out etc because she is afraid of anything that's vaguely like a bee.

Thank's much folks, I knew I could rely on the hive mind, excuse the pun and all.
posted by timsteil at 2:59 PM on August 30, 2008

Yeah, the wasps are fine and they will not harm you or your children. The boot was what WhatsThatBug calls "unnecessary carnage."
posted by Pants! at 5:43 PM on August 30, 2008

Here's a long explanation of why your yard full of wasps + gasoline + match = bad idea:

If you pour gasoline into a hole in your yard and light it, your yard will explode. I've seen my dad and friends do this. IT DOES NOT WORK. The problem is the fire. The gasoline ignites and the fire shoots out of the hole towards the oxygen in the air in your yard, including the air all around your freaking head. Meanwhile, the colony of wasps experiences a short, limited burst of fire which does not kill them but makes them defensive and pissed. What you will see when you light your wasp-infested yard with gasoline is an EXPLOSION OF GIANT FLAMING WASPS WHO WANT TO KILL YOU.

A better (but still hazardous) idea is to pour diesel or kerosene into ALL the holes in your yard and put rocks over the holes. The fumes will kill the wasps. It will work better than fire because you won't burn it away after 30 seconds. The fumes will kill everything in every tunnel of every hole.

But it will also poison the shit out of your yard ... and you'll have an oil field for a front yard which will be regrettable.

Another option is wait for cold Chicago winter. Should be there any day, right?
posted by metajc at 6:20 PM on August 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

A 'good solution' (sic) in this context is the mechanical solution... kill each one with a stick or boot.

A bad solution would be one where you contaminate the ground water with petrochemicals or insecticides. A bad solution would be one where you poison other animals and/or burn your house down.

I infrequently use insecticides, but my ethics are that I never destroy life that is not bothering me. If it's a danger to pets, people, sensitive property or other animals (as in a wasp nest built in the mailbox), then it's a Darwinian thing and they colony gets wiped. If they are living at the crest of my roofline and won't be disturbed, they can carry on undisturbed.

If these are periodic cicadas, then you won't have the problem next year. If not, then you won't have the problem in a few weeks to a month. Forebearance and tolerance of a guiltless indigenous and remarkable lifeform is a planetary mitzvah. Your soul will be improved by the kindness and your good heart will be a shining example to others to be tolerant of our fellow earthbound mortals. (I am an athiest, btw!) Don't hurt the bugs if you don't have to, but if you feel you must, please don't poison the environment with random sprinklings of dubious chemicals. Just smash 'em.
posted by FauxScot at 7:56 PM on August 30, 2008

Uh, I don't know about diesel or kerosene... when we have ants, we usually just pour boiling water down the holes. I don't know how well it would work on flying insects, though.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:44 PM on August 30, 2008

Here's a long explanation of why your yard full of wasps + gasoline + match = bad idea:

If you pour gasoline into a hole in your yard and light it, your yard will explode. I've seen my dad and friends do this. IT DOES NOT WORK.

I have to beg to differ. I have done it, and if done right, it works awesome. The keys are

1) Do it at night. Less activity around the nest.
2) Pour about 2 cups of gas in for a small nest, more for a larger nest.
3) Gas soaked rag goes over the hole after a pour to keep the little stingers in.
4) Wait about 15 minutes, then light it up from a safe distance. Waiting will let the vapors settle throughout the entire nest, and when you light it up, the burn/shockwave (and there will be a shockwave) will travel through the whole nest, smashing it to hell.

Note if the nest is large enough, this might actually cause a bit of damage to your yard, in a localized area. When I used this method once at a friend's place to get rid of an enormous mound of biting red ants, we let it soak for about 30 minutes then tossed a burning branch on top of the mound, and there was a little "whaff-crump" sound, and a roughly oval area about 3 feet across bulged out for an instant and then fell back, collapsing about 3 or 4 inches into the ground as the ant colony below caved in from the blast. After we confirmed total annihlation, some topsoil and grass seed was needed to level that out again.
posted by barc0001 at 1:39 AM on August 31, 2008

As mentioned, Cicada Killers are pretty harmless, but if they're annoying, you don't need to be particularly afraid of them. Just keep a tennis racket around and swat them when you see them.
posted by benimoto at 5:34 PM on August 31, 2008

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