BROOD X CICADA UPDATE
Updated: Mar 16, 2021
Spring of 2021 will bring with it a visit to the DC Metro Area from the Brood X Periodic Cicadas. Many of us have already been reading about their impending show and how it may affect our plants. We wanted to let you know what you can expect as a client of Hedge Garden Care:
This will be the third emergence that our Head Gardener, Brian Hall, has worked through in the garden. (yep, he was gardening when he was 16)
Our overall experience is that there is very little, to no catastrophic damage caused by periodic cicadas.
We will see (and hear) the cicadas emerge between April and June 2021.
Our region experiences cicadas each year in the late summer. The difference with these guys is that they appear earlier and in greater mass (yuck!!), AND they have red eyes.
Not all gardens will be affected. Newly constructed homes or homes with extensive new additions often will have disturbed the brood below ground. We saw most activity near older homes, near Rock Creek Park or other large masses of tree growth. If you recall seeing the Cicadas 17 years ago, they will be back.
Damage occurs when the female cidadas lay their eggs in the branches. The branches then wilt, turn brown and/or break off. While the damage is unsightly, it will rarely kill at tree or shrub.
We will see leaf drop below trees this summer and will plan to clean it up as it happens.
There is no pesticide that effectively prevents Periodic Cicada damage.
Newly planted small trees and shrubs may be vulnerable to damage. The only effective strategy to prevent cicadas from laying eggs on these plants is to net them using net with ¼” or less openings. Hedge Garden Care is NOT planning to preventively net most trees or shrubs for the following reasons:
Netting must cover the entire tree and its trunk to the base. The netting must be installed in late March - April (when the brood emerges) and remain installed for up to 6 weeks after the Cidadas emerge (Potentially from April – July). In our opinion, this could cause greater damage to the structure, and growth of new trees and shrubs than the cicadas.
This netting and the labor to install it is costly.
Netting is difficult to manage and if torn or comes untied at the base can cause harm to birds, bats, small animals, and beneficial insects.
We try to minimize our use of all single-use plastics in the landscape.
If you have newly planted specimen trees, fruit trees or trees that were specially pruned, we are happy to discuss a management strategy either by us or provided by your arborist.
If you are interested in a deeper dive into the subject:
Return of Periodical Cicadas in 2021: Biology, Plant Injury and Management by Michael J. Raupp. PhD - TCI Magazine