The extraordinary thing about pests is that they come in different sizes. From tiny pests that are hardly seen to huge flyers that can freak anyone out, we can’t just ignore them and leave them be. Especially if you’re dealing with big ground hornets at the moment, you really have to start thinking and do your best to get rid of them. Read on as we have answers to the questions that you may have in mind.
What Are Ground Hornets?
Ground hornets, also known as cicada killers, are not your average wasps in terms of size. Often confused with yellowjackets and murder hornets, their choice of food is what sets ground hornets apart from these creepy flying insects. As their name implies, grounder hornets, a.k.a cicada killers, feast on cicadas. They hunt their prey and bring them to their nests which are usually holes in the ground that they’ve dug in advance.
How to Identify Ground Hornets
Ground hornets are digger wasps that can grow up to two inches. They are known to resemble yellowjackets for the yellow stripes on their reddish and black body. They have six wings, antennae, and brownish wings. Typically, female ground hornets are larger than male ground hornets. As they are one of the largest digger wasps, people are often intimidated by their appearance.
Where Do Ground Hornets Live?
Ground hornets like to burrow deep in the ground. They dig until they make a hole deep enough for their nest. They can live in flower beds, gardens, sandy soil, berms, or any place where there is dry soil. Female ground hornets hunt for cicadas by stinging and paralyzing them, and with their unusual strength, the females fly with their stung prey and bring them to their nests. You can usually find their nest hidden underground.
How to Know if You Have the Ground Nesting Hornets
The first signs of ground-nesting hornets are the appearance of holes in the ground. These holes are the entrance to the nest where female ground hornets usually hide their collected cicadas. Since they like to burrow in dry soil, you will often find these suspicious-looking holes under sunny spots and where there’s little vegetation. Be wary also of a pile of dirt, shrubs, and planters as ground hornets can build their nests in these kinds of places.
A typical entrance to their nests is less than an inch wide and 10 to 20 inches deep. As female hornets dig the soil, they usually form a U-shaped mound at the mouth of the hole.
Life Cycle Of the Ground Hornets
In the summer, adult ground hornets emerge, and mating begins. After a male ground hornet and a female ground hornet mate, the female will start looking for a spot suitable for nesting. A loosen soil is always an ideal place for ground hornets to burrow, and it’s not only the females’ job to find a nice home for their eggs. They’re also responsible for digging a tunnel long enough to keep their eggs safe and warm. The females will either use their middle and hind legs to their head and front legs to push the soil out. This digging will last for weeks until the females are ready to lay their eggs.
Before eggs are hatched, the females still do the work of providing food for their future offspring. Once they caught cicadas, they carry the paralyzed cicadas to their nests. As females have their ways of knowing which eggs are female and which eggs are male, they will leave one cicada for the male offspring and two or three cicadas for the female offspring. Female ground hornets need to be fed more as they need to support their growth for their future responsibilities in life. After securing food for their eggs, the females then cover their nests with soil. When the eggs are hatched, the ground hornet larvae are well-fed with cicadas which were served in advance.
The larvae then will feed for two weeks until it enters the pupal stage. The cocoon lives through winter. By summer, they emerge as adults, and the cycle begins again.
What Scent Do Hornets Hate?
Hornets can’t stand the smell of peppermint oil. Dilute the peppermint oil with water, and you got yourself a non-toxic horn-repellent spray. A mixture of lemongrass, cloves, and geranium essential oils is also effective at repelling hornets. As wasps are typically repelled with the smell of herbal plants, it is also wise to plant basil, thyme, and rosemary in your garden.
Will Ammonia Kill Wasps?
Ammonia can kill wasps when poured directly into their nests. To be more effective, pour the ammonia into the opening hole of their nest and cover the hole with a rock or something solid to prevent the wasps from escaping.
How to Get Rid of Ground Hornets Naturally
Keep the Soil Wet
Although ground hornets typically don’t pose a threat to humans, they can be damaging to plants. As they burrow on the ground, they dig deep, which loosens the soil and, in turn, affects plants’ growth. And since cicada killers prefer to live in dry soil, watering the plants regularly may effectively keep them away.
Get Rid of Their Food Source
As noted earlier, ground hornets are known for hunting cicadas. If your goal is to eliminate cicadas, one effective step is to remove their food source. Hungry ground hornets will not stay long as female ground hornets rely on nutritious cicadas to feed their young. As cicadas love to feed on nectars, wrapping a net around vulnerable plants can keep cicadas away.
Use Meat and Hornet Bait Kits
If you don’t have time to make your own bee-killing equipment, you can use commercial control items to remove a hornets’ nest.
Hornet bees are carnivorous insects that will consume anything from the useful insects. Many hornet bait kits are available on the market, and some hornet bait kits are non-toxic.
Hornet Bait Killer Ingredients
- Hornet bait kit
When hornet bees need to absorb the protein from the spring until late summer, you can use this strategy to remove them. When setting the trap, you need to follow the guides on the bait kit and also wear the protective clothes.
Set up the bait station, and then add some insecticide to the meat. And set the bait out and see the hornet bees consume the poisoned meat.
When you don’t know how many there are in your house or where the hornet nest is, one effective way to remove hornets is the trapping. Meat or fruit juice can be used to attract pests from a place where you can place the bait and then trap them there. A variety of wasp trap kits are available on the market.
How to Prevent the Ground Hornets in Your Garden
Although ground hornets can be your little helper in getting rid of little insects in your garden, keeping your plants healthy is still your priority. Their digging greatly affects your plants as they can go deep and reach the roots. One way to prevent them is by putting fertilizers and hydrating your soil on a regular basis.
Moreover, as ground hornets hunt for cicadas and as cicadas feed on your plants, putting sticky bands around your tree trunks or foiling the branches can prevent ground hornets from preying in your garden. Pruning your plants is also an effective way to prevent cicadas from feeding your plants and keeping the ground hornets away.
Ground hornets are often confused with other more dangerous wasps. As intimidating as they may appear, thankfully, ground hornets will not act aggressively even though their nests are threatened. However, it is still important to get rid of ground hornets, especially when you’re tending a garden, as they can bring damage to your plants. And keep in mind that the first step in dealing with any pests is always removing their food source.