With dark bodies covered by transparent wings, cicadas grow to be about 1-1/2 inches long. Only the males make the loud buzzing, which is produced by a special vibratory organ called a "tymbal". While the large broods are above ground, up to 40,000 cicadas can appear under one tree.
The Noisiest Eaters in Your Yard
If you live anywhere is the Eastern US, you've listened to the loud vibrating noise ebb and flow from your back yard. Every few years, these noisy creatures not only make your spring months hard on the ears, but also hard on your plants. Young cicadas suck the sap right out of the roots of your plants, causing a reduction in the amount of fruit and flowers they can produce. You can help control the damage they cause.
2 Types of Cicada Damage
Cicadas harm your plants in two ways. They can feed on the roots of your plants, but most of the damage is done when the females lay their eggs in your trees. Females have a sawlike egg-laying organ that they use to cut through the bark and the sapwood of twigs. They then lay up to twenty rows of eggs that number from 24 to 48 per row.
A Peculiar Lifestyle
After hatching, cicadas will burrow themselves in the soil where they live for long periods of time before reappearing above ground. The periodical cicada has a southern race, which has a 13-year life cycle, and a northern race, which lives for 17 years underground. Fortunately, they have a consistent life cycle, making time of appearance easy to predict. The annual, or dog day, cicada spends 2-5 years in the ground before hatching in July and August.
Muffle Their Noises
Although there's not much you can do to prevent a brood from emerging, you can control how much damage they do to your yard. If you are in a region where a periodical cicada brood is expected, do not plant young trees until fall and cover young trees, especially those planted that spring, with mosquito netting. Remove damaged, brown twigs as soon as you see them. Adult cicadas can be controlled by using Ortho® Bug-B-Gon Insect Killer for Lawns & Gardens.