The Complete Guide to Locating a Ground Hornet Nest

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Considered as the largest species of ground digger wasp in the United States, ground hornets, also called the cicada killer wasp, is a gigantic hovering insect with no hesitancy invading your property. These pests typically measure up to two inches in length and have black bodies that feature yellow markings similar to those of its close relative, the yellow jacket. Unlike other stinging insects, these wasps are more isolated like a solitary bee. Their nests can be a significant risk to your home and family, as they’ll use their smooth stingers when provoked. 

Where do ground hornets live? Their nest can actually be found nearly anywhere, from flower beds to backyards to the dirt along sidewalks. Once they start burrowing, they can create underground nest sites that are about 10 inches deep with another 6-inch horizontal tunnel. Here's a guide on how to locate these pesky pests’ homes.

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Where Do Ground Hornets Nest?

Generally, ground hornets like to nest in open ranges with sandy soil, which they need for burrowing nests. They also favor areas with flowers because of their nectar, one of the hornet's primary food sources. Commonly seen during the summertime, after mating, female ground hornets dig their tunnels in dry soil. Like other solitary wasps like the sphecid wasp, mud dauber, potter wasp, and spider hunter wasp, ground hornets have one female that builds either one wasp nest or several distinct nests.

When they’re out of their ground nest, you can often spot female ground hornets in trees, harboring cicada populations. In the event where they spot a cicada, the hornets sting and paralyze their victims, then they bring them back to deposit in their wasps' nests. Cicadas are known for the thunderous sound they produce. Cicada populations can blast a collective buzz that tops off at nearly 90 decibels. It can be compared to standing next to a jackhammer without earplugs.

Signs of Infestation

One clear sign of ground hornet infestation is sizable holes in your lawn or patio. These holes usually are around an inch and a half in width, and if the hornets have dug holes close to one another, you'll find many of them. Another hint is big piles of dirt in the form of a horseshoe. These indicate the entrance to a burrow and are typically found in sunny areas. 

Like most infestations, ground digger wasps don't come all at once. In their first year in your garden, you may only spot a few, and even then, only seldom. But they can instantly multiply. And since digger wasps never use the same nest more than once, their tunnels and tiny ground homes can produce soil issues for your yard and become an eyesore on your home. It isn't unusual for yards in our area to have an influx of ground digger wasp species, which adds up to thousands after many years without interference.

Are Ground Hornets Dangerous?

Ground hornets have significant stingers. They use them to plunge into cicadas to inject venom to paralyze them. Without question, their stings are painful. However, they’re not aggressive and don't have the nest-guarding instinct of other social wasp species like the honey bee, bumble bee, carpenter bee, and hornet species like a black-faced hornet, Asian giant hornet, bald faced hornet, and European hornet. You can walk through spaces where they’re active without drawing attention, unlike randomly stepping into a honey bee colony, ground bees' nest, or yellowjacket nest where you’ll be stung in an instant. 

However, when they feel threatened, females will use their stinger to defend themselves. Males lack stingers but are very territorial. They’ll confront anything that enters "their area," including people mowing or riding tractors. 

How to Remove Ground Hornets Nest

If you decide to remove a ground hornet's nest by yourself, find and identify the nest entrance during the day, but take action in the evening when the insects are expected to be inside the nest and less active. Wear protective clothing when approaching the ground wasp's nest. Tape down your collar and the cuffs of your sleeves and pants. Fix up any lighting you plan on using some distance from the nest because the hornets may be attracted to the light. Then try one of these remedies: 

  1. Soap and water may be the simplest way to deal with your ground hornet problem. Pour a solution of dish soap and water into the nest entrance. You can also do this method on a black-faced hornet nest, baldfaced hornet nest, and yellow jacket nest.
  2. Insecticide dust, like 5% carbaryl dust, is the most reliable way to kill the colony. Spray the nest entrance every three days until there’s no daytime movement around the nest. 
  3. Buy a lure trap or wasp trap and hang it in the area you want to be clear of hornets. Hang the trap 2 to 4 feet above the ground in a room that’s roughly 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Empty and clean the traps every three to four weeks. Although traps won't eliminate hornets, aggressive trapping can significantly reduce cicada killer wasp activity.

If you're allergic to wasp stings or bee stings or if you don't have the proper gear, don't attempt to eliminate the ground hornets nest or ground wasp nest by yourself. Instead, call a professional.

How to Prevent Ground Hornet Nest

  1. Since ground hornets like to nest in loose soil, it's important to practice good lawn care. Fixing any spots of dead grass or bare areas regularly is a must.
  2. Keeping your yard soaked stops the soil from growing too loose, preventing these ground wasps from burrowing in it.
  3. Areas that draw lots of sunlight are their preferred nesting places. Therefore, it will be most helpful to plant any shade-providing vegetation as an effective countermeasure.
  4. Remember that ground hornets will keep coming back year after year if they like the soil structure. If this happens, it's best to call pest management professionals to come out and treat the area. A pest management expert has the knowledge, equipment, experience, and skills to effectively work on a ground hornet problem. Locating and treating the hornets' nests can be difficult, especially if a lot of nests are hidden around your area. A pest management professional can provide his expertise to identify the problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the infestation. The pest management professional can also treat yellowjacket nests, paper wasp nests, and bumble bee nests if any of these stinging insect shelters has become a nuisance for you.

Leave the Hornet Nest Removal to the Expert

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Ground hornet nests can be extremely troublesome and can quickly turn into an intractable problem if left untreated. If you've reached the point where your ground hornet problem is too complex to handle on your own, don't hesitate to contact Pinnacle Pest Control. Our technicians are licensed, qualified, bonded, and insured. They’re experienced in eliminating all types of pests. They’re trusted in treating homes with the same dedication and care they would for their own. Call Pinnacle Pest Control today and request your free quote.

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