How to Protect Plants From the Horde of Cicadas Without the Use of Chemicals

Remember when 2021 was the year when things were supposed to get better? Well, sorry, people who live in a handful of eastern states are cicadas here . If you spotted their abandoned shells dotting the ground, or saw live beetles dangling in the trees (or if one of them landed on your head), then you already know that they are not easy on the eyes. But are they dangerous? Or just annoying? Either way, you probably want to keep them as far away from you and your home as possible. Unfortunately, this is not easy, but there are things you can do to protect your plants.

Why are cicadas appearing this year?

This spring, Brood X cicadas emerged partially (or completely) from the following conditions :

  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Washington

This particular brood has been hanging out underground for 17 years (seriously) in anticipation of this moment. I’ll let Lifehacker Senior Health Editor Beth Skorecki take it from here:

Periodic cicadas ( Magicicada species) live underground as larvae for 13 or 17 years, depending on the species. When it’s time for them to produce the next generation, they emerge, molt, mate, and die within a few furious weeks. When it’s their year, the trees around them are covered in giant beetles. This whole phenomenon is either disgusting or exciting, depending on who you ask. (Okay, maybe both). The emergence has not yet begun this year, but it is expected to start in the next month or so when the earth warms up.

Umm, no thanks.

Are cicadas dangerous?

Sure, they’re super nasty, but are cicadas really dangerous? For the most part, this is not the case, and they are considered “nasty pests,” although according to Pest World, they can harm young trees . Here’s some more history from the error experts:

They do not bite or sting and, as a rule, do not pose a threat to human health. In general, most of the complaints associated with recurrent cicadas are associated with their noisy behavior as well as peeling of the skin. Cicadas are known to be the loudest insect in the United States, as their “singing” can be heard up to ½ mile away.

Although cicadas usually enter a home through an open window or door, they cannot reproduce indoors, “so it is unlikely to become infected in homes,” according to Orkin .

How to get rid of cicadas – spoiler, you can’t

These suckers have been hiding underground for over ten years and literally come in flocks – so if you live on their way, they will be there. During their peak, the best / only way to avoid them is to stay inside, explains Pest World .

You will need to actively get rid of cicada skins that may accumulate in your yard, especially around tree trunks. So you can take a rake or a shovel and take care of them.

How to protect plants from cicadas without using chemicals

If you are worried about the plants and young trees in your yard, there are ways to protect them – and none of them require the use of pesticides or other chemicals. Here are some tips, courtesy of Orkin :

  • Handicraft: picking adults and nymphs from plants by hand, if found in small enough numbers.
  • Garden hose: Knock cicadas off plants by spraying water from a garden hose.
  • Foil and barrier tape: Wrap tree trunks and large bushes with plastic or duct tape (barrier tape) to catch cicadas trying to climb plants to feed or lay their eggs.
  • Net: Protect young or valuable plants by covering them with net.

Um, happy spring!

This article was originally published on March 28, 2021 and has been updated on June 8, 2021 with new information and links.

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