Lets Grow

Cicadas – Protecting Your Trees

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Published January 8th, 2010

We’ve had numerous calls from gardeners alarmed about the invasion of 17-year Cicadas, looking for a way to protect their trees and shrubs. Adult cicadas aren’t hungry, so they can’t be controlled by the usual process of poisoning the plant leaves with insecticide sprays. Disposable plastic netting with ¼” hole size is the most effective way to protect valuable trees and shrubs from the Cicada bug infestation. Plastic netting can prevent the insects from laying their eggs in the twigs of small trees or shrubs.  We looked to the nursery industry for a source, and one of our growers referred us to a company in Minneapolis called Industrial Netting. They produce a huge variety of netting products for virtually any purpose. Industrial Netting offers two grades of ¼” “Cicada Control” netting in various sizes; a lighter weight, lower cost netting, and heavier gauge netting, by the roll or packaged in pre-cut pieces. They take credit card orders by phone or online, and ship in 24 hours. You can call 800-328-8456 or better yet order online. Here’s the link: https://www.industrialnetting.com/cicada-netting.htmlCicadas live for 17 years, but they spend almost all of their lives underground eating roots. Cicada nymphs emerge from the ground in periodic cycles. They climb up trees and quickly shed their skins, emerging as adult, flying cicadas. Adult Cicadas do not eat. Their entire purpose in life is to mate and produce offspring. You can hear the males’ mating “song” from early morning to nightfall. In heavily infested areas, the noise can be quite disturbing. Shortly after mating, the male Cicada dies.  About five to ten days later, the female Cicada lands on twigs of deciduous trees, cuts slits in small pencil sized (or smaller) branches and twigs, and lays her eggs in the slits. She then goes on to another twig and repeats the process, laying about 24 eggs each time. A female cicada can deposit up to 600 eggs. The eggs hatch, producing tiny nymphs that fall to the ground. These nymphs burrow into the soil and feast on underground roots. They remain there for years, slowly growing, until their periodic cycle calls them to emerge again as adults.  Where infestations are heavy, the egg laying process is repeated on a tremendous number of twigs. This causes the twigs (or ends of the tree) to die, and often break off. With a heavy infestation, it often destroys young trees and bushes. While the damage may look bad on large trees, a mature tree can usually survive the damage.

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