17-year cicadas may damage small trees
What do these states have in common?
• IA, IL, IN, MI, WI
• KY, GA, IN, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV
Both will soon experience the return of 17-year cicadas. The first group of states (IA, etc.) will have a cicada summer in 2007 when Brood VIII hatches, and the second group of states (KY, etc.) will have a cicada summer in 2008 when Brood XIV hatches.
There are 12 broods of 17-year cicadas and 3 broods of 13-year cicadas in the eastern U.S. Most of them are on different schedules. A master schedule and much information about periodical cicadas is provided on the Periodical Cicada Page by The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
The cicadas have been underground, sucking sap from tree roots for the last 17 years, and they will be emerging to mate, not feed. However, female cicadas will cut slits in small branches and lay eggs in the wounds. This will often cause the end of the branch to die. On a large, healthy tree, the damage won't be life threatening, but it could injure a small tree seriously.
The University of Illinois Extension Service provides this information:
They advise that a small tree should be protected with netting or mesh that stands away from the main branches and trunk far enough that the cicadas can't reach them with their ovipostors (egg-depositors).Eggs are inserted into tree and shrub stems that are up to two inches in diameter. Heavy egg laying will cause twigs to break, resulting in dead leaves at the end of branches. Small trees may have enough eggs laid into the trunk that it breaks off.
Source: The Green Line, They're Back! Periodical Cicadas."June 2005
A recent article in the Chesterton [IN] Tribune gives similar information:
These small trees can be protected with nylon netting or cheesecloth during the egg-laying period. The netting should have a mesh of no less than 1/4 inch and should be placed over the trees when the first male songs are heard. The netting should be tied to the trunk beneath the lower branches and can be removed after adult activity has ended. Young twigs that have been damaged by egg laying should be pruned and destroyed within a three-week period after eggs are laid. Doing so will prevent newly emerged nymphs from reaching the ground.
Source: "Cicadas are back: Tips to protect small trees," Chesterton Tribune, by staff.
If you live in one of the states that will host periodic cicadas in 2007, you should be prepared to put the mesh in place soon. Cicadas may already be emerging. Small "volcanoes" of dirt under your trees will be the first sign that the cicadas are moving to the surface to mate. After they mate, the egg laying will begin.
Don't worry about your conifers. Cicadas don't usually bother them.
The Master Gardeners: The 17-year cicadas are coming this year
The Otherworldly Roar of the Cicadas
Periodical Cicadas in Kentucky