My yard looks like it’s ready for Halloween or maybe a ghost tour of Savannah. I heard the cicadas were expected this week, today, to be precise, so I spent Sunday netted my young fruit trees. I guess they are bidding their time, because I haven’t heard a chirp.
I don’t remember them visiting in 1996. I remember hearing them, but I don’t recall seeing any in my yard. I have a lot of birds, so maybe they didn’t stand a chance. More likely it’s because I don’t have a lot of hardwood trees. The more trees, the more cicadas. Forests should be loaded with them.
But since their last emergence, I’ve planted some fruit trees and they all have branches under ½ in. in diameter. I don’t want to start over with them, so I covered them with a light netting. You need a net with squares that are less than ½ in. wide, to keep the females from getting in and laying their eggs inside the branches.
That’s the damage they do. As overwhelming as they can be in numbers, they don’t really have any interest in people or pets. But the females insert their ovipositor into small branches and if they don’t snap them off, the emerging larva may.
They’ll only be around for a couple of weeks. Then they’ll go back under ground, munch on tree roots and hang out as nymphs for another 17 years.
Updated expected arrival is now the end of May or the first week in June. Learn more about cicadas from the Cornell Chronicle.