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The dreaded thread - Cicadas

Posted by tn_veggie_gardner 7 (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 29, 11 at 8:37

They are due to return this year, if you haven't heard about them already. In fact, we will start seeing them in less than 2 weeks. My main concern is my garden, of course. :) Do they mess with any plants? If so, what types do they flock to (tomatoes, peppers, berries, etc.)? What will keep them away from my plants, if they do like to mess with them? Please let me know. I'm sure many others will find this information usefull also. Thanks! - Steve

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: The dreaded thread - Cicadas

I really don't recall them doing any noticeable damage. I think in the adult stage they are more sap suckers than anything. They don't live very long.

But I can tell you this. If you catch/collect a bunch and put them in the freezer,then wait a few weeks after they are gone, they make fantastic fish bait. While they are swarming you can't hardly catch a fish. They are full of tasty cicadas. But a couple of weeks after they are gone the fish are hungry for more and will go after one as soon as it hits the water.

RE: The dreaded thread - Cicadas

Ick! I so dread the onslaught of them ugly things! From what I have read they are a threat to young trees under two years old. It was recommended on one page to net baby trees from the crown to the base for protection. Now the challenge is to find such netting cheap enough.

RE: The dreaded thread - Cicadas

A friend sent me an article from the UT Extension service about them and they suggested cheesecloth. Maybe that's cheaper than netting??

RE: The dreaded thread - Cicadas

I bought some tulle for making protective nets for my little trees. At Hobby Lobby I found some with a larger mesh -- not as fine as bridal veil tulle -- so it should let in sun, rain and breezes and not weight the branches down too much. It's made of nylon so I hope the cicadas can't chew through it. It's not very heavy duty so once I've got it on the trees I'll let you know how it holds up to branches in the wind, and let you in on anything I learn by trial & error.

The tulle comes in different widths so I got 72" which is the widest they had, plus a roll/spool of finer mesh tulle (6"x25yds) for wrapping around trunks. The spool cost $2.99 and the tulle was something like $1.29 yd. (btw, it also comes in many pretty colors so I got tan for the trunks and a variety of fun colors for the tops.)

The biggest trees I'm wrapping are two Japanese maples that are almost ten years old (one coral bark, one butterfly) and I've kept them trimmed to about 10' tall and 4-6' wide. For netting I'm trimming them down to about 7'-8' tall and as narrow as I can without ruining the shape, bearing in mind that the cicadas would do much worse given half a chance. The spool tulle will wrap the trunk from the ground to the lowest branches which start at about 16". The wider-mesh tulle will be tucked into the wrap so there's no access for any hungry bugs crawling up. The only way I've come up with for making a tube shape to encase the branches is to hand sew a seam up the side. If anybody has a better idea, let me know! The top can be gathered in a bunch and secured with a tie-wrap, sturdy rubber band, twist-tie, etc. Just be sure it's weather proof and that you keep an eye on it.

Besides the two fairly mature Japanese maples, I've got several others that are only 2-3 years old. For my littler trees I'm putting shepherd's crook hangers beside them to hang/support the tulle from above and not put the weight on their little branches. My most important tree is a 4' baby ginkgo that my mother raised from a miserable little rootling I got as a freebie and gave her as a green thumb challenge about eight years ago. She had it in a pot, then in her garden, and when she and my Dad moved to an apartment (after 63 years in their house) she gave me back the ginkgo to keep it growing. This will be its third summer with me and OMG you better believe I'm going to protect it from cicadas!

Is there anything short of poison that discourages cicadas? My gardens are as bee/butterfly/bird friendly as I can make them, but plagues of locusts make me feel very unfriendly.

Happy gardening.

RE: The dreaded thread - Cicadas

I'm not sure what to do about this. :( Almost all of my trees are babies, some of them small babies, and most of them not easy or cheap to replace. :( I guess I'll be netting some of them - it sounds like they're coming this weekend.

I wondered if other people were planning to net everything, or to let older trees fend for themselves.

RE: The dreaded thread - Cicadas

This is not a plague & they're not locusts......
check out the article from yesterday's Tennessean & just to confirm - I pretty much got the same info from the UT website.

RE: The dreaded thread - Cicadas

This is the third time I've seen the cicadas. I've noticed that they generally climb the tree under which they hatched. I've never lost any plants or shrubs to them. I've read they are a natural pruning system for older trees.

Would wrapping young trees really be effective? I've only seen them fly when they hear tractors or lawnmowers because they sound like the mating call. I don't know that netting would prevent them from climbing the tree.

If you do decide to wrap, do an internet search and you can find tulle at very reasonable prices and in great colors. I used this last year to keep the birds off the tomatoes. The sun gets through and it tears easily which makes it a cinch to remove. Much easier to work with than bird netting.

I read that they are a delicacy to some animals. My dog is gorging herself, getting sick and gorging more!

RE: The dreaded thread - Cicadas

Cicadas are fascinating insects, I am an entimologist and study cicadas. There are your 17 or 13 year cicadas, which congregate in vast swarms and then you have your very common dog-day or annual cicadas. Periodical or 17 year cicadas are small black and have red eyes and red veins. They come out in broods and may cause dmage to young saplings or bushes, they rarely do damge to vegetables because they feed on sap mainly which comes from large old trees. However during large congregations you may want to cover any vegetables you have just in case. As for annual cicadas they can be heard droning on hot summer days in the aftenoon and winter they rarely harm vegetables and feed on sap. Females insert eggs using ovipostors into branches and twigs, they may harm young saplings but prbably not. Common annual cicadas include: tibicen tibicen, tibicen auletes, tibicen resh, tibicen pruinosa, tibicen, pronotalis, and tibicen aurifera.

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