Brood X Cicadas

Magicicada septendecim Linnaeus

The Brood X Cicada, often referred to as the 17-year locust or periodical cicada, is an insect that emerges in large numbers after completing a 17-year life cycle underground. Cicadas are part of the hemiptera order of insects also known as ‘true bugs’. Most damage done by these insects is by slitting and flagging of twigs in order to deposit eggs. This generally has little effect on the overall health of mature trees. Brood X contains three separate species known as Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassinii and Magicicada septendecula. The next emerging population is expected in summer of 2021, affecting primarily eastern and upper Midwestern states. 

Identify

Brood X Cicadas can be identified by its long black body, reddish eyes, and orange wing veins. Adults are approximately 1.5 to 2 inches long. Immature cicadas can be identified by their long front legs. Immature cicadas are subterranean but crawl out of the ground just before molting into an adult. After emerging, the immature cicadas leave a 0.5 inch hole in the ground and shed off a light brown cast. Cicadas do not bite or sting and do not cause any danger to humans or your yard. The nymph cicadas slowly feed on tree roots while underground for their seventeen year period while adults may feed on plant sap. Male cicadas are known for their mating call, a distinct loud buzzing sound heard during the summer months.

Female cicadas cause damage to trees because they utilize their saw-like abdominal appendage to cut small slits in tree branches where they then deposit their eggs. The female cicadas only lay their eggs in the outer 2-3 feet of twigs. This only occurs on young branches because the bark is soft. Sometimes the damage caused is only cosmetic because the wound heals. In extreme cases, it can cause the tips of branches to die. Mature trees may suffer cosmetic damage, but nothing severe enough to kill them. Smaller, newly planted trees are of greater concern because many of the branches are the size female cicadas are looking for. If you are planning on planting new trees in 2021, you should wait until fall once the adult cicadas have died off.
 

Life Cycle

The Brood X Cicada is an insect that lives underground as a nymph for seventeen years before emerging as an adult cicada. What makes the Brood X unique is that it emerges every seventeen years in huge numbers. These periodical cicadas emerge in groups as a survival method because cicadas are defenseless creatures preyed on by other insects, birds and animals. Billions may emerge across the country in late June in Indiana and early to mid-July in Michigan. The Brood X Cicadas start their emergence when soil temperatures are approximately 64 degrees Fahrenheit at the 8 inch soil depth. The periodical cicadas are expected to have emerging populations in Lower Michigan, eastern Illinois and most of Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. The last time the Brood X emerged in these areas was 2004, with new populations expected to emerge this summer in 2021.

Control

Cicadas do not damage lawns or affect them in any way. There is no product warranted to protect trees from cicadas, but there are two methods to help control cicadas and protect plants. First is the hose method: knocking cicadas off of plants by spraying them with water from a garden hose. Second, small trees such as maples, oaks, willows or other ornamentals can be protected with netting. You can start by netting the trees around the time the male cicadas start their mating call. Make sure the nets have holes of approximately 0.25 inches or less and keep them on the trees for approximately 4 weeks. Animals will also help to control cicadas by feeding on them. Many animal populations are positively impacted by cicadas due to cicadas being an abundant food source. 

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