The cicadas are coming!

Much of the ATS sales area will experience Brood X this year.  It is the largest brood of the 17-year periodical cicada. This brood of cicadas has been feeding on tree roots for the last 17 years. In May, when the irises are blooming, the nymphs will crawl out of the ground and molt into adults. You might notice little mud tubes coming out of the ground, or just a number of holes in drier soil. Up to 1.5 million cicadas per acre can emerge! The adults will have black bodies, with red wing margins and eyes. They will be around for about 45 days.


The males will make a high-pitched, shrill song in an attempt to attract a mate. The mated females will pierce twigs between 3/16″ and 7/16″ diameter with her ovipositor and lay eggs. The eggs will hatch, the nymphs will drop to the ground, burrow, and find trees to feed on for another 17 years. A mated female can lay between 400-600 eggs.
What should you expect? Cicadas are loud, especially at 1.5 million per acre (that’s 34 per square foot). Only areas that had trees on it 17 years ago and still have trees will experience this. I remember the last emergence in 2004. I was an applicator. The sound was deafening. As masses of cicadas died, some neighborhoods smelled like death. The entomologist in me thought it was awesome. Some people cooked cicadas. I was not one of those. If you are allergic to shellfish, you might have an allergic reaction if you opt to have some stir-fried cicadas.

Trees in the landscape may experience some damage. Young trees may suffer, while large trees should be just fine. If you have a couple small trees, you can use 1/2″ mesh netting to protect them. If you feel like you have to spray to protect trees with an insecticide, something like bifenthrin, FMC’s Astro, or FMC’s Scion could be applied. You’d have to spray every 3-4 days to prevent injury and every 7-10 days to reduce injury.

Some people may think they see increased cicada killer populations this year. They won’t. The cicada killer wasp only feeds annual cicadas to its young. Cool, right?