Are you worried about the cicadas?

pixie_louMay 8, 2013

I keep reading that the cicadas will be emerging from their 17 year sleep as soon as the ground temps hit 64 degrees. However I'm hearing conflicting reports as to whether cicadas will be present in metro west boston.

Are you worried about the cicadas? How do we prepare?

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ctlady_gw(z6 CT)

Very unlikely. Heard a great speaker (John Cooley) at the Yale's Peabody Museum the other day -- a great speaker and an expert on them. I didn't know they are not locusts, but are giant aphids. They are absolutely fascinating...but he said the most recent research indicates that even Connecticut is perhaps outside their northern range. Boston certainly is. There's terrific (and lots of it!) information on! Check out the FAQs...

Here is a link that might be useful: Info on Brood II cicadas

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 4:15PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I always thought they were cool. It literally has not been until the last few days that I was surprised to discover that people are worried. I guess they can do some serious damage, but I don't recall that. Of course, I've been gardening just about 16 years, and the last emergence was 17 years ago (at least of this type), so I guess I wasn't gardening at the time to see any damage.

However, all that being said, I have heard that even here in southern CT we probably won't see them, or at least not a lot of them. I have to admit to a bit of a let-down feeling when I heard that! But maybe I should be grateful, if they are that damaging.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 5:46PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

They don't really do much damage according to the FAQ on the site ctlady linked to. The only damage is when the females insert their eggs into the branches.

Birds and squirrels love cicadas, as stated on the Cicada Mania site so maybe I wouldn't have to put out as much birdseed as I do....


    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 6:14PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

We were here for the Great Invasion - when the 17 year brood emerged, as well as the annuals, and either one or two other big cyclical broods. The noise was deafening in the woods. The damage was rather impressive on certain sizes of woody plants. Unfortunately, it predated digital cameras, so I didn't get a picture of the damage to the potted bay tree, or oak twigs, or climbing roses.

Having seen that, I understand fearing fairly serious damage on small trees. The slits are deep enough to mechanically weaken branches, and the oaks were dropping damaged twigs for several years afterwards.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 6:45PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

There is a brood in far SE Massachusetts and upper Cape Cod. It is Brood #14. They emerged in 1991 and then again in 2008. In the 2008 emergence there was a fair amount of tree damage in the Bourne MA, area. The damage presented as brown leaves near the end of branches on oak trees. it was fairly extensive. This brood extends from the Ohio Valley, to PA and NJ, and then up through Long Island and finally SE MA, Cape Cod. It doesn't include the immediate Boston area which is just north of the brood area.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 8:04AM
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Hmmm I was visiting Baltimore about 12 (?) years ago when a brood had emerged. I love cicadas, but when they're in a swarm it's a little much. They covered every inch of every branch on certain trees. I think they did do some damage.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:03PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I usually see 1 or 2 of these somewhere around the yard each year and of course hear them every summer on the hottest afternoons. I guess these are the regular annual Cicadas.

They are fascinating bugs. I would love to see one of the huge emergences. I remember watching a nature show about an emergence with zillions of Cicadas everywhere and all manner of wildlife stuffing themselves, and the narrator says "A miracle has happened in the forest. Everyone has full bellies."

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 8:08PM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

I am reminded of my grandmother teaching me to listen to the cicadas hum in the 60s. To both of us, the cicadas were fascinating bugs. However, an invasion sounds nasty. I wonder if there are natural predators that we should encourage?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 8:45PM
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ctlady_gw(z6 CT)

Terrene -- when Cooley was asked "what are their predators" he replied "anything with a mouth" and said even domestic cats and dogs will eat as many as they can chow down (so many they actually get sick sometimes). Raccoons, possums, fox, deer, you name it -- they all eat them. He said raccoons sometimes just wait under the trees for the cicadas to fall (into their mouths, I guess...)

Personally, I think those red eyes are WEIRD! If you visit the Magicicada website, you can actually play the calls of the various species. VERY cool stuff. Nature is amazing.

(He also said their best guess now is that they may somehow be able to "count" the leaf cycles of trees (not the soil temp, or the seasons, but how often the trees leaf out... there seems to be some evidence that in areas where gypsy moths denude trees and the trees leaf out a second time in the same season, the cicadas get thrown off and emerge a year early! Circumstantial evidence, but a fascinating theory... they seem to be "counting" something!)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 8:47PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

The NYT has recipes for human consumption of cicadas the last time. We had a mulch under the oak trees of about 3 inches of dead cicadas. Small birds were trying to each cicadas that were almost as big as they were.

Weeding this spring, I've found odd, conical holes in the ground. I've wondered if they are connected to the cicadas, since they seem to be something new.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 6:33AM
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I've lived in Massachusetts all my life, and have seen one cicada ever.

This batch of 17 year cicadas isn't predicted to be in Massachusetts at all.

We will have our usual crop of late summer annual cicada.

Generally cicada do little damage. They do most of their eating during the years they are underground sucking on tree roots. I understand they can do some damage to orchards and newly planted saplings. Any grown tree that is either native or really invasive shouldn't even notice. Vegetables and most flowers and grasses shouldn't be effected at all.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 12:07PM
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I am 63 now and remember visiting the house my parents had just bought when I was only three. It was still empty and the dead cicadas had accumulated in a corner of the living room. Mom called them 17 year locusts. Were they really locusts or cicadas or are those the same insect? (This was Baltimore)
Their exoskeletons littered the sidewalks where we walked. crunch, crunch.
That's quite an impression to have stayed for 60 years.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:08PM
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Today at my Home Depot (RI) they had Cicada netting to protect small trees. I had a little chuckle. (Since they aren't supposed to be here at all.)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:58PM
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