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Are Cicadas Harmful to Plants? – Understanding the Impact Cicadas May Have on Your Property

With cicadas emerging in various regions, many property owners are concerned about the potential impact these insects might have on the plants on their property. In this blog post, we aim to clear up any misconceptions and provide a comprehensive understanding of whether cicadas are harmful to your plants.

What Are Cicadas?

Cicadas are large, winged insects known for their distinctive sound and periodic emergence. They typically surface every 13 or 17 years in massive numbers, depending on the species. Right now, we’re seeing a rare double-brood event, meaning that two broods will emerge, something that hasn’t happened since 1803. 

While their presence can be noisy and overwhelming (some species can produce noise at over 100 decibels –  for reference, a chainsaw comes in at 110 decibels), it’s important to understand their behavior and lifecycle to assess their potential impact on your landscape.

Are Cicadas Harmful to Plants?

The short answer is: not significantly. Cicadas feed on tree sap rather than leaves or flowers. Contrary to what some may believe, cicadas don’t cause serious damage while feeding. 

However, their egg-laying habits can cause minor damage to young or thin-barked trees and shrubs. Female cicadas cut small slits into the bark to lay eggs, leading to noticeable scars and, in severe cases, causing branch ends to die off (“flagging”). Mature trees generally withstand this well, but younger, soft-wooded plants are more at risk.

After hatching, cicada nymphs burrow underground and feed on plant roots. While there is potential for slowed growth if a large number feed on a single plant, this activity typically does not noticeably impact plant health.

Protecting Your Plants

To mitigate potential cicada damage, consider the following strategies:

  1. Physical Barriers: Cover young trees and shrubs with fine netting or mesh to prevent egg-laying. Ensure the netting is tightly secured.
  2. Tree Wrapping: Use protective materials to wrap the trunks of young trees, shielding them from cicadas.
  3. Watering and Care: Keep your plants healthy and resilient by maintaining proper watering and care routines. Healthy plants recover more effectively from minor damage.
  4. Pruning: After the cicada emergence, prune away damaged branches to encourage healthy new growth and prevent infection.

While cicadas can cause some minor damage to young and vulnerable plants, they are generally not harmful to well-established landscapes. The key is to be proactive – protect susceptible plants, and ensure the overall health of the plants on your property with regular maintenance. Remember, cicadas are a temporary phenomenon, and with the right precautions, your plants will thrive despite their presence.

If you have any concerns or need assistance with cicada damage or landscape management on your property, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts is here to help you maintain a beautiful and healthy environment for your property.


About Us: Croy’s Mowing is dedicated to providing top-notch services and expert advice to ensure your property remains beautiful and thriving year-round. Contact us today for all your commercial landscaping needs.

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