For Immediate Release - June 2, 2004
Are Cicadas A Natural Friend or Foe?
Bedford Hills, NY June 2, 2004As the largest known brood of the 17 year periodical cicada emerges throughout the region, there are as many conflicting opinions crawling around as insects. Along with the media hype, cicadas are literally creating a buzz that has homeowners both concerned and confused about the possibility of damage to trees, shrubs and gardens. SavATree’s staff of tree care experts believe there is not much for local residents to worry about.
Cicadas won’t devastate all of your trees, shrubs and flowers,” states SavATree Director of Plant Health Care Patrick Parker, “but their activity is not a beneficial form of natural pruning for your trees either.” Parker says the truth lies somewhere in between these two commonly held beliefs. “Orchard and nursery owners will need to protect young specimens, but most homeowners have nothing to fear. “Cicadas won’t harm vegetables or flowers, and large trees are able to sustain a great deal of activity with no more than cosmetic damage called flagging.” As cicada larvae feed on peripheral branches, the twigs break and droop over the edge of the branch resembling a brownish flag. “It may look really bad in the short term, but the overall health of mature trees will remain unaffected,” says Parker, “Your trees will most likely return to their normal appearance next season. However, small trees and new transplants are in danger of being killed when flagging is severe.”
If you’re worried about valuable ornamentals, cover them with cheese cloth or any netting with holes small enough to keep out the insects,” suggests SavATree President Daniel van Starrenburg. “When you see the first sign of cicadas, cover the canopy and secure the netting beneath the lowest branches at the trunk,” says van Starrenburg. There is a 5-10 day lag between cicada emergence and egg-laying activity. The SavATree President adds, “Netting will prevent cicadas from laying eggs in tree branches, and furthermore, it means cicada nymphs won’t be feeding on your tree’s roots for the next 17 years.”
Parker recommends having a professional arborist assess the damage to young trees, shrubs and mature specimens after cicadas have come and gone in late July or early August. “Fertilizing your trees in the fall will help them recover from damage and stress produced by cicada activity,” adds Parker.
After emerging from the soil and mating, females seek out small branches 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. In their last act before dying, female cicadas use a saw-like part of their body called the ovipositor to cut several slits into small branches and lay their eggs. Common hosts for this activity are oak, dogwood, apple, peach, hickory, cherry and pear, although other hosts are often attacked. Cicadas are not generally interested in evergreens.
SavATree has been providing environmentally sensible tree, shrub and lawn care to residents, communities, businesses and historic properties for over 20 years. They currently operate in CT, MA, NJ, NY, PA and VA. SavATree specializes in Plant Health Care, General Tree Care and Lawn Care services that include artistic and maintenance pruning, historic tree preservation, insect & mite treatments, storm damage prevention, organic lawn care, and integrated lawn care.
About SavATree: This premier tree, shrub and lawn care company has been providing environmentally sensible tree, shrub and lawn care to residents, businesses and historic properties for over 20 years. They currently operate in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and Washington D.C. Industry certified arborists provide clients with expertise in tree care and help clients maintain a healthy, safe and beautiful landscape. Services include pruning, disease diagnosis, emergency tree service, woodlot management, removal, insect and mite treatments, organic lawn care, integrated lawn care and more. For more information, please contact us.
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