Garden lovers, are you worried about the forecast invasion of the cicadas? Do our plants and trees need protection, or will they survive this uninvited visitation without help?
Possibly tens of billions of cicadas are expected to emerge from the ground, after having spent 17 years in nymph and juvenile form. It is projected that portions of our northeastern section of the United States will experience swarms of these large flying insects, each bug in a desperate hunt for a mate.
This year’s batch has been named Magicicada Brood II. Based upon previous occurrences, during their stay, the most damage these periodical cicadas are likely to cause is to slender tree and woody shrub branches. Female cicadas make slits into tender branches, where they lay their eggs. Large, established trees have gone through this process time and again, and continue to survive, with mostly minor loss of smaller branches. However, some areas of the northeast may experience greater infestations than others, and tree damage may be more severe. On the other hand, some areas may only hear the regular chirp of the annual cicadas.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Gardener s may want to consider the merits of delaying the planting of young, tender trees and shrubs until the fall this year. Planting during the spring of 2013 may expose trees to a greater risk of widespread cicada damage. Many gardeners agree that fall planting of trees is a better choice, since the cooler temperatures enable the plants to concentrate on growing strong roots and storing their nutrients underground over the winter. Small trees already planted this year can be covered in netting during cicada season, to prevent cicadas from reaching the less mature and undersized branches.
Portions of North Carolina, around Washington DC and Virginia, and even parts of central/northern New Jersey have reported seeing cicadas already. Recent cool and rainy temperatures seem to have delayed the expected massive arrival. Experts agree the 17 year cicada emerges after soil temperature to a depth of 8 inches exceeds around 64 degrees.
While we await this long anticipated metamorphosis, some fascinating characteristics of these seldom seen bugs, and their shorter-lived cicada cousins, are given here:
Local media has posted some really informative reports for our tri-state area. Before reaching for repellents and resorting to frightened retreat, learn more about these temporary residents:
Adventurous foodies may want to experiment during a time of abundance with recipes featuring this protein-rich insect.
Read up on ways we may be able to gauge when the cicada brigade is most likely to arrive, and what to expect:
In the Philadelphia area
In the New Jersey area
In the Delaware area
No one is able to reliably predict exactly where the greatest swarms of cicadas are likely to spend their fleeting lives this year. Time will tell whether this year’s cicada crop turns out to be a good or bad experience. Based upon past incidents, we may only have to contend with a gross overload of big, fairly harmless bugs hanging around for a few weeks.