Cicadas Are Coming - What You Need To Know
Spring marks the return of numerous pests to the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia region. Cicadas are one such pest, invading yards and homes in the area as the weather warms up. Here are some basic facts about cicadas, their history, and what you can do to prevent them around your home.
What Are Cicadas?
Cicadas are insects in the same family as grasshoppers, and similar in many respects. Cicadas are notable for their lifespan which is vastly longer than most other insects, although much of it is spent while they are underground as larvae and nymphs. They are best known for the loud calls the males make during mating season, which they create by rubbing their wings together in a specific way.
Attracted by the sounds, females are drawn to the males, wherein they will quickly mate and subsequently fly to trees where males are not playing their mating song. As they mate only once, females are motivated to move away from the male subsequent to mating. Mated females will use their ovipositor to inject eggs into the bark of new growth twigs. Cicada eggs hatch six to ten weeks after being laid, rain to earth, quickly dig in, attach to feeder roots and feed on xylem fluid.
Cicadas are characterized by their long life cycles. Periodical cicadas have 13 and 17 year life cycles, with several broods sharing the same geographic location. After many years of larval life, male and female nymphs crawl from holes in the ground at the same time, clamber onto vertical surfaces, emerge from their larval skin, inflate the adult skin and sit inert until the adult exoskeleton darkens and hardens. This process may last hours or days.
Reproduction is rapidly completed after the adults emerge, with the bulk of the mating and egg-laying in the first 5 to 7 days. Cicadas die 4 to 6 weeks after emergence, after which time they are typically eaten by animals in the wild.
Cicadas are not considered dangerous, but they are a serious nuisance due to the noise they create.
Cicadas Are Coming - How To Prevent Them
Cicadas typically come out from underground around April. Thirty cicada broods exist in the continental United States, with Brood X the major brood in the Capitol Pest service area. As this is an emergence year, residents in the area should be aware that cicadas are set to return soon.
At the height of their calls, the noise cicadas make can be ear-splitting, making them an obnoxious pest to have. Here are some tips you can use to prevent them as much as possible:
- Hose off any cicadas around your yard with a garden hose
- Place meshes over your plants to keep cicadas off them
- Keep plants around your yard planted away from the exterior of your home
- Wait to plant new plants until fall
- Keep your yard clear of any clutter that could attract them
Unfortunately, attempting to treat or prevent a cicada presence can be incredibly difficult. Pesticide treatments for the control of these insects is not recommended, and in most situations can have harmful effects. As most egg laying is complete 5 to 7 days after emergence, the window of opportunity for effective treatment is very narrow, and using pesticides against them can threaten pets and other animals in the area.