Evergreen Seeds

Cicadas, known for their iconic buzzing, can often cause distress when they make their way into our spaces. These insects belong to two broad categories: periodical and annual cicadas. Periodical cicadas are particularly well-known for their mass emergences every 13 or 17 years, whereas annual cicadas make an appearance every year. Regardless of the species, their noisy presence and potential damage to plants in gardens and landscapes warrant effective strategies to keep them at bay.

A garden with netting covering plants, wind chimes, and citronella candles to keep cicadas away

I understand the challenges posed by these insects. Through experience and research, I’ve learned that timing and the right methods are crucial in managing cicada populations. Measures such as physically removing them, using barriers to protect young trees, and maintaining yard cleanliness play a significant role in deterring these persistent critters.

Consider this; cicadas lay their eggs in small branches, and when these eggs hatch, the nymphs drop to the ground to burrow and begin their underground development. Thus, property inspection and timely interventions become imperative, especially when expecting an imminent emergence of periodical cicadas. Dealing with annual cicadas involves similar, but often less intensive, approaches as their numbers are usually smaller and their emergence is spread out over the summer months.

Identifying Different Cicada Species

I’ve come to understand that distinguishing between cicada species can be fascinating due to their unique characteristics and behaviors. Two primary categories are annual and periodical cicadas. Annual cicadas appear every year, while periodical cicadas emerge from the ground in 13 or 17-year cycles. The latter are most notably part of the Magicicada genus.

One striking feature of periodical cicadas is their metallic black bodies and bold red eyes. By observing these traits, one can often identify the species. Brood X, for example, is a well-known group that surfaces every 17 years. Monitoring the emergence and habitats of these broods can play a crucial role in species identification.

💥 Noteworthy Characteristics

Adult cicadas have clear, membranous wings that can help in identifying them. Males are well known for their distinctive mating call, which is a loud, buzzing sound used to attract females. Understanding these sounds can be pivotal, as each species has its own unique call.

When I examine cicadas, I pay close attention to the size and color variations, which can differ significantly from species to species. For example, annual cicadas tend to be larger and are more variable in coloration than their periodical counterparts. Nymphs, which develop underground, can often be identified by the remains of their exoskeletons left behind after they molt and become adults.

In essence, when my goal is to identify cicada species, I observe their physical attributes, listen to their mating calls, and take note of their emergence patterns. This approach has proven effective in my efforts to learn about and differentiate these fascinating insects.

💥 Quick Answer

To effectively keep cicadas at bay, understanding their life cycle and behavior is crucial. Knowing when cicadas emerge and their mating habits can inform preventive measures.

Key Tactics to Keep Cicadas Away

From what I’ve learned, the cicada life cycle is fascinating and plays a significant role in determining when and why we see these insects. Below, I dive into two key phases of their life cycle which are essential to understand if we aim to keep them away from our environment.

Development and Emergence

Cicadas begin their life cycle as eggs which are laid in tree branches. After hatching, the nymphs, looking like white larvae, drop to the ground. They will then burrow and remain underground, undergoing several growth stages over many years, emerging only when ready to become adults. The timing of their emergence depends on the species, with some appearing annually and others, known as periodical cicadas, emerging en masse every 13 or 17 years.

Mating and Reproduction

Upon emergence, cicadas’ principal goal is to mate. I’ve noticed that male cicadas are particularly noisy during this time, as they “sing” to attract females. After mating, females lay eggs, and the cycle begins anew. Understanding this behavior is critical; for example, if I timed yard work or set up physical barriers during or just before the expected emergence, I might disrupt the cicadas’ life cycle and reduce the number of young cicadas going back into the ground.

By focusing on these specific stages of their life cycle, we can develop strategies to keep these noisy yet harmless insects away from our properties.

Protecting Your Garden and Trees from Cicadas

In my experience with gardening, I’ve found two effective methods to keep cicadas at bay. It’s vital to safeguard young trees, as they’re most susceptible to damage, and I’ve learned that preventive measures work best to maintain a cicada-free garden.

Using Netting and Barriers

I often use netting when cicada swarming is imminent. This is an effective physical barrier that prevents these insects from reaching plants and young trees to lay their eggs on the tender twigs. Here’s what I do:

  • 🌱 Select the right netting: Make sure the mesh is fine enough to prevent cicadas from passing through. Typically, a mesh size of 1cm or smaller should suffice.
  • ✂️ Install the netting carefully: Drape the netting over the trees or shrubs, securing it at the trunk or the base to prevent cicadas from crawling underneath.
  • 🌳 Protect young trees: For saplings and young trees, I recommend using tree guards or wrapping the trunk with foil to discourage cicadas from climbing.

Chemical and Natural Insecticides

I prefer to use insecticides sparingly, as they can affect beneficial garden insects as well. However, there are situations where a judicious application might be necessary:

  • 💚 Broad-spectrum insecticides: Use these chemicals only where cicada presence is overwhelming. Always read the label to ensure it’s effective against cicadas and apply as directed.
  • 🌸 Essential oils: Peppermint, spearmint, lavender, and thyme oils, mixed with water in a sprayer, can deter cicadas when sprayed on plants and trees.
  • ⚠️ A Caution: Always consider pets and local wildlife when using chemical insecticides. Opt for treatments with a minimal residual effect to limit environmental impact.

By combining these strategies, I usually manage to maintain my garden’s health and vigor, even during the most intense cicada seasons.

Cicadas’ Role in the Ecosystem and Predation

In my experience with the cicada phenomenon, particularly with large emergences like Brood X, I’ve observed that cicadas serve significant ecological functions. Cicadas, while often viewed as pests, play a crucial role in the ecosystem of the eastern states of the U.S. As larvae, they burrow and create tunnels in the soil, which improves aeration and water infiltration for plants and trees. This natural process can be beneficial to gardeners, mimicking the effects of mulch by recycling nutrients as they decompose.

Cicadas’ emergence is also a feast for predators. A variety of species, including birds, rodents, and even other insects like praying mantis and crickets, rely on these insects as a food source. Possums and woodpeckers are known to indulge in cicadas’ abundance, which can lead to an increase in their local populations, further influencing the ecological balance.

To protect blueberries, beneficial insects, and ornamental plants from being damaged by cicadas, especially when they emerge to mate, certain non-invasive strategies can be implemented. Physical barriers, such as netting over trees and shrubs, can prevent cicadas from reaching these plants to lay eggs. Using barrier tape is another method to deter cicadas without harming them or other wildlife in the area, allowing me to avoid the use of pesticides that could negatively affect the environment.

💚 My Personal Involvement

I take care in applying my knowledge of cicadas’ ecological importance by judiciously protecting my garden without disrupting their role in nature. Remaining informed and considerate of these creatures ensures that my garden thrives alongside the natural world.

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