Cicadas are an insect that spend a large part of their lives underground. When they emerge it happens in what is called a “brood”. Broods stay underground for certain periods of time. There are roughly twelve broods of seventeen year cicadas and three broods of thirteen year cicadas. Brood II is the name of the brood that last emerged in 1996 and is due to emerge this spring. When cicadas emerge from the ground they come in fantastic masses. There can literally be a hundred-thousand or more in a single acre of land at their peak. This brood is especially unique as it is called magicicadas as they were once considered magic for only appearing every seventeen years.
Here are some interesting facts about the emergency of Brood II:
- They are due to emerge in late April or early May of 2103 on the East coast of the United States. The map highlights some of the locations they will emerge.
- The cicadas will only last for about two weeks before they die.
- Cicadas do not typically bite humans. If they land on you for an extended time and try to feed you can be mistaken for a plant be bitten.
- The noise you hear from cicadas is actually males trying to attract females.
- If your dog or cat eats a cicada it is not poisonous. In fact, in many places around the world cicadas are considered a delicacy.
- The cicadas will make a lot of noise so they attract mates before their life cycle ends and they disappear once more.
The emergence of these insects should not be much of a concern in terms of causing harm to any humans. They can certainly be a nuisance to outdoor activities. We also do not like them buzzing around in our faces but they do not cause harm to humans.
However, cicadas can cause significant damage to plant life that is just awakening from a long winter slumber. There are some things you can do to protect your plants and trees from cicadas.
Here is what you should know about protecting your plants and gardens:
- Consider holding off on planting any new annuals until after the cicadas leave the area. Young plants will likely not survive the invasion an you will need to replace them anyway.
- Cicadas lay eggs by burrowing their saw like egg laying organ into trees. They cut through saplings and bark easily. You must use netting to protect the trees that has very tiny holes.
- You can prune any tree branches that look significantly damaged by the female egg laying.
- You must be sure to protect fruit trees as they are a favorite of cicadas to lay eggs.
Insecticides are not helpful on cicadas because they do not consume plant life as adults. The insecticides usually have no effect and can sometimes harm useful insects. Wasps, many species of birds and even some animals will feast when the cicadas emerge. The rest of us, will likely be indoors hiding from the swarms!
-A Degs lives in New Jersey, a region that is expected to be hit very hard by Brood II in 2013. She’s also an avid gardener who is hoping to protect her beloved peach trees.