Cicada killers are wasps that use mimicry to protect themselves from humans and other would-be predators. The yellow and black markings resemble yellow jacket wasps that are social wasps with a reputation of being fierce stingers.
The Cicada killer is not a social wasp but is more of a solitary wasp. Males do have appendage like a stinger but it cannot pierce human skin. For the male, his only defense is intimidation by aggressive flight patterns that stay close to the ground. The female on the other hand does have a stinger and is not afraid to use it but only if handled.
Females sting their prey paralyzing the victim and then carry the victim away and store it in underground burrows to be used as food for larvae that develop before becoming adults. Cicada killer wasps have one generation per year and adults only have about 75-day lifespan. Cicada killers feed on plant nectar and sap and are not much consequence to humans except for damaging turf and undermining patio pavers, and in some cases, concrete sidewalks and pads.
The name ‘Cicada killer wasp’ sounds ominous but is not to be considered anything like European hornet or Giant Asian hornet. In fact, they are not even the same species. Cicada killer wasps are also know as Cicada Hawk wasps. Cicada killers can be treated successfully. Several treatment plans are available.