The Cicadas Are Coming!
After seventeen years of living underground, in the spring of 2013, the periodical cicada will emerge by the billions on the east coast of the United States(North Carolina to the New England states).
What are Cicadas, you ask? They are locust looking, red-eyed bugs, that are harmless to people, animals and most plant life, but very soon will be impossible to ignore. Once the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees, they will emerge, and our mutual co-existence will begin.
Although cicadas hatch within tree branches, they immediately make their way underground to feed on the fluid of plant roots for the majority of their lives. Once they are ready to mate, they emerge from the ground in enormous numbers, overrunning our landscape, crunching beneath our feet and driving us crazy with their noisy mating calls. Then one day, they will be gone and forgotten for another seventeen years.
The mating call of a cicada comes only from the male and is actually a sound made from vibrating membranes on their abdomens, but can exceed 120 decibels! Once the male has attracted his lady friend and they breed, he dies. (I feel a joke brewing, so let's move on.)
The impregnated female lays as many as 600 eggs in surrounding trees and bushes by cutting small slits in the branches and depositing her eggs in those slits. She too dies soon thereafter. This amazing, noisy, eerie process takes about thirty days.
If you have young or weak trees/ bushes that you would like to protect, wrap them in insect netting and wrap the base of the trunk with insect barrier tape. Older, more mature trees and bushes usually recover quickly. It has been suggested by entomologists that trimming back trees close to your home will help keep the insects from coming inside.
If you are using power tools or lawn maintenance equipment, prepare to be landed upon! The cicada confuses the sounds they make themselves with the sound of the machinery, and will actually land on people using the machines. Suggested times of day to cut your lawn are in the early morning or near dusk as the insects are less active. Another suggestion is to wear a hat when working outside, especially under trees. Cicadas drink tree fluids, so they pee…need I say more.
If you live between North Carolina and the New England states, may your cicada experience be more interesting than miserable! Remember, it is only once every seventeen years…don’t forget your hats!!