17-year cicadas are coming: How to protect trees in your yard

Local News

(WKBN) – For the first time since 2002, the sound of the 17-year cicada will be heard around eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Not only will you be able to hear the insects, but you’ll likely see their exoskeletons loosely attached to your trees.

You’ve probably heard the sound and seen the shells of the cicada before. This season, they’re coming back.

The Brood VIII cicadas are underground now but sometime in mid-May to June, millions of them will reappear.

“In general, I try to tell everyone, ‘Make this a fun science with your kids. Enjoy nature,'” said Eric Barrett, a Mahoning County Extension educator.

Slightly different from the greenish dog day cicadas we see every year, the Brood VIII are smaller and have red eyes but function quite the same.

They exit from a hole in the ground, climb up a tree, shed their skin and go on to mate. Within two to four weeks, they are flying and the females will lay eggs for the next round of cicadas in the trees.

“She will cut open a piece of the twig, she’ll lay about two dozen, about 25, eggs each time,” Barrett said.

Mature trees can hold up to the cut the females make. New trees, however, may see some damage down the road as they grow.

“As far as the holes in your lawn, I’d be more worried about grubs and things of that nature that are attacking the roots of your lawn,” said Taylor Torello, with To a T Home Services.

Since you know the cicadas are coming this year, if you haven’t already, don’t plant any new trees. If you wait until fall to plant a new tree, it’ll have 17 years to grow before the next cicadas come.

If you have young trees in your yard, you can protect them by covering them with netting. It should have a mesh size no longer than a quarter-inch. Fasten the netting around the trunk of the tree just below the canopy to keep cicadas from climbing up the trunk. You can find this netting at stores that sell landscaping supplies.

When you see any cicada damage, clip it off. This will get rid of the eggs, making the next round of cicadas fewer.

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