Some unexpected guests may soon be appearing in your landscape after a 17-year rest beneath the surface. You will recognize them by their red eyes and orange wings—the trademark features of periodical cicadas. The sight and mating sounds of hundreds of cicadas can definitely be alarming, but remember that these insects do not pose a threat. Cicadas are essentially harmless: They do not bite, they do not sting, they are not poisonous, and they are not considered a pest, which is why tree care specialists do not treat landscapes to remove cicadas.
The cicadas expected in Northeast Ohio are known as 17-year periodical cicadas. Periodical cicadas are classified into “broods” and arrive in 13- or 17-year cycles. The National Pest Management Association refers to these insects as the “longest lived insects in North America.” Depending on your location, there may be thousands of cicadas or hundreds of thousands of cicadas emerging per acre! Where do these insects come from? For 17 years, they live underground, feeding on the moisture of tree roots. In the year of their expected emergence, once temperatures in the soil warm to 64 degrees, they will begin to emerge. In a period of just a few weeks, these adult cicadas will shed their exoskeletons—which you may see in your yard and which provide a beneficial fertilizer—attach to the branches of healthy trees, mate, lay eggs, and then die. Adult cicadas lay their eggs only on trees they know will be around for the next emergent, so if you see cicadas on one of your trees, it is likely a healthy tree!
We expect to see the 17-year cicadas emerge in the Cleveland area by late May. Again, as these insects are harmless and even beneficial, Independent Tree does not spray for cicadas. We do offer deep root organic fertilization treatments to restore some of the nutrients that may be lost from cicadas feeding on your trees. If you have some newly planted trees that you’d like to protect, try wrapping the branches or removing any cicadas by hand.
Questions or concerns about cicadas? Give the team at Independent Tree a call.