Every month, “The Seed” newsletter (produced by the University of Maryland Extension, Montgomery County, MD, Master Gardeners) discusses and highlights topics related to gardening, lawn care and landscaping. In the May 2013 issue, Eric Wenger, owner of Complete Lawn Care talks about the 17-year cicadas, which will be returning to the DC metro area this summer.
Here’s the interview:
The Seed: Where have the cicadas been for the last 17 years?
Eric: They’ve been underground, feeding on tree roots and awaiting the trigger that sends them to the surface.
The Seed: Is the coming “visit” that of the 17-year type or something else?
Eric: There will be the “regular” annual cicadas that emerge every late summer. There will also be an emergence of Brood II of the Periodical cicadas that are part of the 17-year cycle. This is not the full emergence of Brood X that will take place in 2021. This is a smaller emergence that takes place in southern Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Southern Maryland, and parts of Pennsylvania. According to the Magic Cicada website, the National Geographic site named after the cicada genus, they will emerge when the temperature at eight inches deep in the ground reaches 64 degrees.
The Seed: What type of damage to trees and shrubs could we see?
Eric: Most folks won’t see any damage to their trees and shrubs unless they look closely. The female cicada uses her ovipositor to slice into small branches and twigs that can cause scarring. Also, if large numbers are on single plants, there can be feeding damage. This is typically not a big problem unless the plant is a fruit tree or small ornamental such as a Japanese maple, etc.
The Seed: Will there be damage to other plant material?
Eric: Typical damage is flagging and breaking of twig size branches on trees of all sizes, but damage can be severe on smaller trees and fruit trees.
The Seed: Are there any damage prevention tactics?
Eric: Floating row covers and bird netting can be put on smaller plant material and fruit-bearing plants. Larger plants will have to fare on their own. No pesticides should be used.
The Seed: What cicada facts should Master Gardeners who staff clinics know?
- Moles, skunks, and raccoons will be tearing up peoples’ lawns searching for them so that the yard looks rototilled!
- No pesticides are recommended for the control of these insects and none should be used.
- These Periodical cicadas are black with red eyes.
- They only appear in certain parts of the country, Primarily in the east and mid-west.
The Seed: Do you have any funny stories to tell from your experiences or your clients’ experiences with Cicadas?
Eric: The best stories about these Periodical cicadas usually involve peoples’ dogs and cats eating them, to EXCESS! And then throwing up. They taste really good and all types of animals like to eat them, including snakes, spiders, moles, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, rats, birds, and of course dogs and cats. People eat them too, including me! They are quite tasty if you can get over the initial angst of eating a big bug. I did not eat them raw; they were spiced and deep fried.
*Eric is a long-time Master Gardener who is President of Complete Lawn Care, Inc. and Complete Plant Health Care, Inc. He would like to acknowledge the University of Maryland Extension TPM/IPM Report March 29, 2013, from which a lot of the above information was gathered.
The Staff at Complete Lawn Care, Inc.
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