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How To Control Cicadas

Looks can be deceiving. That is especially the case about Cicadas which is one of the most harmless flying insects around, the Cicada. Cicadas pose no threat to us humans but when you take a look at their rather ugly appearance, bulging bright eyes, hard shell-like skin and larger than normal size, most people can’t help but be startled by cicadas and run the opposite direction when they are flying about. However, perhaps what’s most annoying about the cicada is the loud chirping noise they emit when they are traveling in their swarms. Cicadas appear primarily in the summer and make a lot of noise and this is why homeowners consider them a pest to get rid of, even if they are only active a few months out of the year.

Cicada Background Information

Cicadas are part of a superfamily known as Cicadoidea and are insects from the Hemiptera order. There are over 1,300 species of cicada and the name is translated from latin as “tree cricket”. At 2 and ½ inches to 3 inches long as adults, Cicadas are quite large, you can’t miss them! The ones you find in America are two species known as Dog-day cicadas (because they usually appear in July or August, “the dog days of summer”) and Periodical cicadas. Cicadas can range in color from greenish black, to black, to reddish.  Periodical cicadas are also known as 17 year cicadas because they emerges after being underground for 17 years.

When cicadas swarm, they can swarm by the hundreds and thousands and can gather around trees and plants in large numbers. Cicadas are known for their unique chirping or buzzing noise.  This noise is actually a loud mating call that the male cicadas emit by pushing air through vibrating organs located on their sides.While mostly a sound and sight annoyance, cicadas can do damage to many types of trees and shrubs they choose to infest and lay their eggs in. They also like to suck the sap out of garden plants and are terribly noisy while doing so.

Female cicadas can lay about 500 or more eggs. These eggs are deposited through an injector called an ovipositor which resembles a needle and by the female into small branches and twigs. These injections essentially kill branches and parts of the tree where they are deposited. The eggs then hatch within a month or two and the larvae then drops to soil where they burrow underground until they mature and fly out to mate.

While cicadas pose no real threat no people in the form of stings or bites, they can bring about danger via predators which like to eat them, namely wasps, which are notorious for killing cicadas. If you don’t want a wasp outbreak, then getting rid of the cicadas when they are active is best.

Tips on Cicada Control

Cicadas are harmless so if you can just wait them out for the couple of months they are active, there would be no need for control. But if you have a particularly large infestation around your home and you can stand the noise they make and them flying about there are some methods of controlling cicadas which are effective.

Thankfully, cicadas are a sought after bug for many different predators. These include birds, like grackles and crows, as well as fish. Believe it or not, cicadas are actually a delicacy to some humans who eat them for their protein. If you don’t want to eat them and don’t have a mess of birds to go nuts on feeding on cicadas, chemical control is the way to go.

Solutions Recommendations for Cicada Control

If you have a cicada problem on your property, there are several pesticides available to both kill and repel all activity. The choice should be based on the size and type of plant you want to treat. Liquid applications are the best choice and we recommend using Reclaim IT or Cirkil CX Quart. Really any broad spectrum insecticide will do. Most of our products are odorless, won’t hurt any plants and will provide 2-4 weeks of residual. But if the your particular cicada problem is large, expect to treat 1-2 a week during the peak activity. This could go on for 2-4 weeks so be prepared to defend all plants and shrubs you want to keep protected.

The best time to treat trees with a residual insecticide control is before cicada infestation. Live cicadas can be sprayed with insecticide solution. There are also insecticide powders available. If you want to quickly kill live cicadas, hornet spray is effective. Some wasp & hornet sprays have a stream that can reach 15-20 feet.

Remember injection of eggs by females can kill branches, so preventive spraying is important. Larvae can kill roots. Thus, treatment of soil is important under and around tree with a granular insecticide. Make at least three treatments May - October. If in a warmer climate, 5-6 treatments will be required. Residual in soil will kill larvae when they fall from tree. Because cicadas tend to return to host trees, look for brown skins to target stressed trees. Stressed trees will benefit from fertilizer and water during dry spells. Although adult cicadas are around for a short time, the larvae can feed on tree roots for years. Prevention and control are necessary to save affected trees.

Browse our Cicada control products below and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us for helpful advice!

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