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Cicadas: The Facts

Cicadas are coming! What does it mean for your landscape?

cicadaResidents of the northeast can expect some visitors in the spring of 2013. Specifically from April through June which will mark the next 17-year emergence of a particular species of cicada. It’s important to note that, while some areas are expecting millions of insects per square mile, it’s not guaranteed that your landscape will see numbers this high.

While there’s not a treatment to keep cicadas from entering your landscape, there are steps that can be taken to strengthen your trees in advance and help them to recover after the infestation. We have put together this brief primer to give you an idea of what you can expect and how it might impact your trees and shrubs.

Will the Cicadas hurt my plants and trees?

Generally speaking, cicadas are not life threatening to trees, however shrubs and newly planted, or small ornamentals can sustain some tip decline or die back. Cicadas don’t have chewing mouthparts but rather they draw sugar fluid from tree by penetrating the bark with their proboscis or feeding tubes.

Female cicadas will also create holes in the branches of woody plants in order to insert their eggs.  This can eventually cause the branches to weaken and snap resulting in “flagging.” Healthy trees can sustain this kind of damage but it’s likely that many trees and shrubs will need pruning after the infestation.

Click here to find your arborist and schedule a visit to discuss post-infestation pruning.

What can I do to protect my landscape?

Even though there isn’t a lot to do ahead of an infestation, afterwards we recommend shrub pruning to trim compromised branches. Additionally, deep root feeding with our bio stimulant ArborKelp® either before or after the infestation can help by developing root systems that are critical pathways for water and nutrients. A strong root system makes trees and shrubs less likely to succumb to environmental challenges of all types.

How long will they be here?

According to, the cicadas will be visible, and audible, in your landscape for around 4-6 weeks after you first notice them. While annual species may be back next year, this particular periodical species won’t return for another 17 years.



Take a look at “The Cicada Love Song” video from National Geographic


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