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What do cicadas eat? These trees and shrubs in your yard could be more vulnerable to cicadas – NBC Chicago

Although the full emergence of Illinois cicadas over 17 years is not yet here, several have begun to appear in the Chicago area, and more are on the way.

“The periodical cicadas have been emerging for the last week and a half,” Stephanie Adams, a plant pathologist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, said Tuesday of brood XIII, which will soon spread throughout the Chicago area. “We found them both here in our landscape and also in our eastern woods.”

For the past 17 years, billions of periodical cicadas from Brood XIII have lived underground in the Chicago area, drawing on fluid from plant roots. They are expected to fully emerge in mid-May and June – and once they burrow in, they can be expected to be “everywhere.”

“There’s really no way to escape them,” said Allen Lawrance, associate curator of entomology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, especially on and around trees, where “piles” of cicada shells are expected. after the insects have feasted on the liquid from woody branches and shrubs.

In general, cicadas are “unpeculiar” – meaning they use a variety of trees and shrubs as hosts – they are known to lay their eggs in favored plants.

“Although most cicadas are considered generalists, with a wide range of host plants, they have preferences like all living creatures,” states an article in the Morton Arboretum.

According to the Arboretum, cicadas “tend to not prefer” plants whose sap or gum might prevent eggs from hatching. Some of these trees include conifers like pine, spruce and fir. These trees may also include cherry, peach, plum or persimmon, the Arboretum said.

Although not picky, the insects are known to lay eggs in certain trees, the Arboretum said, including oak, maple, hickory, apple, birch, dogwood, basswood, willow , elm, ginkgo and pear.

“Cicadas can also lay eggs in certain shrubs, such as rose bushes, lilacs and forsythia,” the Arboretum said.

Arboretum records show that during the emergence 17 years ago, some of the plants most affected by the emergence were maples, cherries, ashes, hawthorns, willows, mountain ash, oaks, pear trees, rose bushes, privet, poplars, saskatoon berries and beeches.

MORE: Cicadas begin to emerge in Illinois. Here’s a map showing where to expect them

According to Adams, the emergence of the first cicadas occurs about two weeks earlier than the historical average. This will continue to be sporadic, as soil temperature, mulch, and turf all impact cicadas differently. For example, the ground is warmer near sidewalks, so cicadas in those locations should emerge more quickly.

“Everything in biology always has a gradient,” Adams continued. “So you always have some early emergers and then others that will emerge a little late.”

How to protect your trees from cicadas

Generally, cicadas are harmless, Adams said. They do not bite, do not have stings and are beneficial to the environment. But they can cause damage to small, vulnerable trees and shrubs, Adams said.

According to Adams, young plants, two to three years old, are most vulnerable, as are smaller plants, with branches less than two inches in diameter, which are at risk. They may not be able to recover from the damage caused by female cicadas laying eggs, Adams said.

MORE: Will the explosion of cicadas in 2024 lead to an increase in the number of cicada killer wasps? Here’s what the experts say

“This damage is caused when the female begins to lay her eggs,” Adams explained. “It has a specialized organ that cuts plants, trees and shrubs and lays its eggs inside the thin bark.”

According to the Arboretum, one way to protect your trees and shrubs would be to use tulle as a protective wrap and barrier. The tulle material is particularly recommended because it is breathable and allows sunlight to penetrate the plant.

“You’re looking for netting that’s no more than a quarter of an inch in diameter, the more the cicadas can climb and defeats the purpose of protecting them,” said Spencer Campbell, director of Plant Clinic.

Homeowners are encouraged to begin protecting their young plants as soon as possible and keep them wrapped until mid-June when emergence ends.

Can cicadas damage trees?

Generally, cicadas are harmless, Adams said. They do not bite, do not have stings and are beneficial to the environment. But they can cause damage to small, vulnerable trees and shrubs, Adams said.

According to Adams, young plants, two to three years old, are most vulnerable, as are smaller plants, with branches less than two inches in diameter, which are at risk. They may not be able to recover from the damage caused by female cicadas laying eggs, Adams said.

MORE: Will the explosion of cicadas in 2024 lead to an increase in the number of cicada killer wasps? Here’s what the experts say

“This damage is caused when the female begins to lay her eggs,” Adams explained. “It has a specialized organ that cuts plants, trees and shrubs and lays its eggs inside the thin bark.”

According to the Arboretum, one way to protect your trees and shrubs would be to use tulle as a protective wrap and barrier. The tulle material is particularly recommended because it is breathable and allows sunlight to penetrate the plant.

“You’re looking for netting that’s no more than a quarter of an inch in diameter, the more the cicadas can climb and defeats the purpose of protecting them,” said Spencer Campbell, director of Plant Clinic.

Homeowners are encouraged to begin protecting their young plants as soon as possible and keep them wrapped until mid-June when emergence ends.

Do pesticides work on cicadas?

A message from the city of Lake Forest advised residents to “avoid planting young trees less than 2 inches in diameter” and to cover young trees with netting. The city also advised residents not to use insecticides.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, pesticides are “generally ineffective in repelling cicadas.”

“So many cicadas emerge at the same time that others will inevitably move in,” the agency said. “Spraying also doesn’t make sense because cicadas are generally harmless. Applying pesticides to control cicadas can harm other organisms, including animals that eat cicadas.”

Can you limit the number of cicadas in your garden?

Frank Meek, technical services manager for pest control company Orkin, said NBC Chicago exterminators generally don’t treat cicadas because they don’t pose a threat to humans, animals or property.

Additionally, chemical treatments are generally ineffective against cicadas due to their short lifespan, Meek added.

“Cicadas are an important part of the food chain and serve as meals for birds, moles, raccoons and some frogs,” Meek said. “It is important that humans leave cicadas alone so that other animals can benefit from this food source.”

Cicadas are not considered pests, Meek said. But they are known to enter homes without being invited.

“Cicadas fly strong but clumsily and can accidentally fly into homes if windows and doors are left open,” Meek said. “However, because cicadas cannot breed indoors, an indoor infestation cannot occur.”

According to Meek, cicadas found in yards and gardens can be “gently” removed by hand. And while Orkin doesn’t advise treating cicadas around homes, there is an extra layer of defense homeowners can adopt to keep cicadas away, the company says.

“Homeowners can also prevent cicadas from taking up residence in their trees and bushes by wrapping the base in foil or duct tape,” Meek said. “This prevents cicadas from climbing the tree or bush to feed or lay eggs.”

Still, experts say, it may not be worth it. After all, there will be billions of them.

“You absolutely should not try to eliminate them from an area that has billions of them,” said Allan Lawrance, associate curator of entomology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.

Although this year’s emergence is only just beginning, it is expected to peak in the coming weeks.

“There’s no way to stop them,” said Allen Lawrance, associate curator of entomology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago. “They’re here. It’s temporary, and there’s really no way to escape them.”

News Source : www.nbcchicago.com
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