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Ground-Nesting Wasps

July 11, 2007

Several ground-nesting wasps are active as adults now. Their presence can greatly restrict the use of golf courses, lawns, and other turf areas. Although most are unlikely to sting, the fear that people have of these insects commonly requires control. Female wasps dig holes in the soil, while males patrol in aerial territories. Common ground-nesting wasps include cicada killer, velvet ant, steel-blue cricket hunter, sand wasps, and yellowjackets.

In home lawns, educating the human residents may foster tolerance. These wasps are more common in bare soil areas, so sodding, planting groundcovers, or mulching may greatly reduce the problem.

Nesting areas in public become a major problem. Area treatment of these insects is usually not effective, nor desired. Carbaryl (Sevin) dust applied at nest openings so that the wasp walks through the insecticide provides control. The dust sticks to the hairs on their leg, and is then ingested during grooming. In areas where the Sevin Dust does not stay dry, application of permethrin or other labeled insecticide to the burrowed area should kill the females. Once the females are gone, the males leave. Sandboxes can be covered when children are not using them, and this deters the wasps. Sand used below children’s swings, jungle gyms, and other playground equipment can be replaced with bark mulch or shredded tires.