Lately, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about Cicadas. The most frequently asked question is: Will they damage my trees and/or my landscape? Without going into a lengthy discussion on the life cycle and feeding habits of Cicadas, we’ve put together some quick facts that may help answer some questions.
1. The 17-year Cicadas is the longest known living insect.
2. Cicadas do not eat the leaves of plants. Once above ground they are pretty much only interested in mating and laying eggs.
Cicadas spend almost their entire life a few feet below ground feeding on the xylem of a tree. The xylem is the vascular tissue in plants that conducts water and dissolved nutrients upward from the root and also helps to form the woody element in the stem. Cicada feeding does not appear to harm trees.
4. When Cicadas die, all the nutrients absorbed throughout their life span return to the earth and surrounding flora. Sort of like a mini bag of fertilizer.
5. Almost everything eats Cicadas – from birds to coyotes. Animals benefit from the high nutrient content found in Cicadas.
6. The ½ “ diam. holes in the soil created by Cicadas as they emerge from the ground are thought to help aerate the root system of a tree.
7. Cicadas drill slits into the tissue of trees to lay their eggs. This can be seen toward the latter part of June at the end of tree branches and is commonly referred to as “flagging” because of the way the leaves die and flop downwards where the slits were made. This process does not appear to have a detrimental effect on native trees.