Plan Ahead to Protect Young Fruit Trees From 17-Year Periodical Cicadas Emerging in May

Above_ground_Cicada_Lifecycle

KEY CICADA FACTS

Cicadas won’t hurt you or your pets. But if you’re concerned, consult a doctor or a vet. Cicadas aren’t a “Plague of Locusts.” In some areas people call cicadas locusts, but cicadas can’t eat crops like locusts. They only drink trees. Most trees will be fine. Smaller trees are more vulnerable, but they can be easily protected with netting. If you don’t like bugs, don’t worry. It’ll be over in a month and a half. If you do like bugs, get out there and enjoy it! They’ll be gone in a month and a half!

How Do I Identify a Cicada?

The first signs of cicadas are often their shells (exuvia). When cicada nymphs come up out of the ground, they climb up the nearest tree or other tall surface, and shed their shells. These shells are perfect copies of the nymphal cicadas. You can even sometimes find little white strands coming out of the shells. These are their lungs (tracheal tubes)! Insect’s respiratory system is made out of tubes and little holes (spiracles) in the outside of their body. When they shed their skin, they shed the whole thing, respiratory system and all!

Where is it Happening?

17-year cicadas can be found throughout Indiana but the biggest populations will be in southern Indiana. According to Cicada Mania, these cicadas were reported to be more abundant in the following areas during their last emergence in 2004: “Bloomington, Brookville, Clinton Falls, Dillsboro, Fishers, French Lick, Indianapolis, Lawrenceburg, Lexington, Martinsville, McCormick’s Creek State Park, Nashville, North Vernon, Skiles Test Park, Spencer."

Damage

The good news is periodical cicadas do not bite or sting people, or pets. The bad news is females lay eggs in 200+ woody tree species and can cause severe damage to young trees (Figure 5). (See Periodical Cicada in Indiana to learn more about landscape and ornamental plants that are attacked by periodical cicada).