Cicada Mania

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April 28, 2007

Protecting your (weak) trees from cicada egg laying. Use netting, not copperhead snakes

Filed under: Flagging | Ovipositing — Dan @ 9:50 am

Update (5/4/2024) Here is a link to a video on Twitter/X from the Chicago Botanical Gardens featuring the Garden’s plant healthcare supervisor, Tom Tiddens. He shows us how to net a tree to protect it from cicada egg laying.

As you may have heard, cicadas can damage trees, particularly young or ornamental trees, as they oviposit their eggs in branches. The damage to individual branches is often permanent, and in some cases the entire plant is lost. Native species of trees, like oak and maples, fare much better against cicadas because they have co-evolved for hundreds of centuries. Young trees and weaker non-native ornamentals, imported from outside the United States, fare a lot worse.

Female cicadas use their ovipositor to carve egg nests (egg grooves, punctures, baby cicada cribs) into the bark of tree branches:

Here is an illustration of the egg nests (baby cicada cribs):
Egg Nests

Mature trees will receive some damage, but they recover. When branches are damaged they die and their leaves turn brown, which is called flagging:
Brood II 2013 Periodical Cicada Flagging

Periodical Cicada Flagging

Check out these articles on Flagging:

Netting and tree protection tips:

  • Do nothing. Allow the cicadas to do what cicadas do, and let them prune the weakest branches of your trees.
  • Use netting to protect tree branches. If you start looking now, you can probably find some at a local garden supply store or online from a store like Amazon. Here is a link to a video on Twitter/X
  • Delay plantings until July.
  • Pick them off by hand like they do in the grape farms of Italy.
  • Spray them off with a garden hose.
  • Foil around the trunk (to keep them from crawling up).
  • Insect barrier tape.
  • Consult with your local tree care expert. Find a local arborist or fancy tree expert, and ask their advice.
  • Bagpipes (no joke, it worked at my friend’s wedding, at least temporarily).
  • Do not use pesticides. It isn’t worth it. Bee populations are in bad shape so we don’t want to do any collateral damage to other species. After 28 years of running this web site, I’ve heard a few stories about family pets dying after consuming pesticide covered cicadas or grass. Don’t do it!
  • Do not surround your trees with a ring of copperhead snakes. By now you have heard that copperhead snakes enjoy eating cicadas at night (although in the photos I’ve seen, they prefer larger species like Megatibicen auletes/grossus.). Gathering a dozen or so copperhead snakes can be time consuming and expensive and they are just as likely to bite you as they are to eat cicadas. Raccoons, bears, coyotes, foxes, and squirrels will also eat cicadas, but I also do not recommend enlisting their assistance. This last one was a joke.

Netting can be effective for keeping cicadas off branches, or on branches, as in the case of this video below where cicada researcher John Cooley had collected many cicadas and wanted to keep them for later. This video is proof that they cannot get through netting:

In my personal experience, which includes two Brood II emergence in my yard, I have seen plenty of flagging, but no death of a tree or shrub. That said, I do not have many small or ornamental trees. I have a 15′ dogwood, azaleas and rhododendrons.

Case study from 2021-2023:

Here’s a small (less than 10 feet) tree that experienced a lot of flagging during Brood X in 2021:
Another small tree with flagging

Here is the same tree in May of 2023:
Princeton Tree

The tree can be found at the Princeton Battlefield Monument park, and if can be seen on Google maps.

Magicicada Database

Filed under: Brood XIII | Magicicada — Dan @ 9:33 am

If you’re looking for historical information about previous brood emergences try Cicada Central’s Magicicada Database. Click on the link that reads Magicicada Database and then follow the instructions (hint: search for the 13 (XIII) brood and the year 1990).

April 25, 2007

Soil Temperature

Filed under: Brood XIII — Dan @ 6:26 pm

Spectrum Technologies is monitoring the soil temperature in Plainfield and Naperville Illinois.

In northern Illinois and surrounding areas, three species of Magicicada emerge from the soil every 17 years for a brief above-ground visit. Brood XIII will emerge when soil temperature reaches approximately 65° F. Spectrum data loggers are busy tracking soil temperature near Spectrum headquarters in northern Illinois to estimate when to expect their arrival.

April 24, 2007

The first Brood XIII sighting (sort of)

Filed under: Brood XIII | Magicicada — Dan @ 10:20 am

Rene reported ]that she saw Magicicada nymphs in holes in a friend’s garden in SE Elmhurst Illinois.

We’re currently expecting the emergence to start on May 24th, but the hot weekend might have roused the cicadas to an early start. We’ll see.

April 21, 2007

Return of the Cicadas

Filed under: Magicicada | Samuel Orr — Dan @ 10:05 am

The Return of the Cicadas 17-Year cicada documentary will be airing on PBS in the Brood XIII emergence area soon. As soon as next Thursday, 4/26. Set your Tivo/DVR to record it!

Periodical cicadas are among the most unique creatures in the animal kingdom. After spending 17 years underground as juveniles, they emerge for a brief, cacophonous population explosion aboveground, where they transform into adults, mate, lay eggs and die off after only a few weeks.

WFYI presents Return of the Cicadas, an original local documentary produced in association with the Indiana University Research and Teaching Preserve. Producer Samuel Orr followed the life cycle of Brood X, which made its momentous ascension in the spring of 2004. It accounted for one of the largest insect outbreaks on Earth. Many different broods exist, on unique 17-year schedules. Brood XIII is due to arrive in northern Indiana this May.

Through stunning close-up video and time-lapse photography, Orr and others offer an amazing glimpse at the lives of these enigmatic insects. The documentary was made possible by the research of IU biologist Keith Clay through grants provided by the National Science Foundation. The NSF and Science Magazine recognized the production with a national award for a short 5-minute film on the Brood X outbreak.

April 14, 2007

Cicadas from Chang Mai Thailand

Filed under: Thailand — Dan @ 9:22 am

insects from the forests of Chiang Mai is an excellent website featuring many photos and audio recordings of cicadas from Thailand. If you want to explore cicadas around the world, it’s a great place to start.

Salvazana imperialis appropriated from

April 13, 2007

The Cicada Lover Song

Filed under: Brood XIII | Pop Culture — Dan @ 10:46 am

One of the fun things about large 17-year cicada emergences like Brood XIII is the pop culture that emerges from the imaginations of inspired cicada maniacs: people write and record songs, perform plays and musicals, make independent films, paint paintings, wake websites, etc.

Today we got an email from a song writer named Gregg who has a song called the Cicada Lover song that he recorded 17 years ago. It’s back, Cicada 2.0 style.

My name is Gregory Paul. I thought you might be interested in this website:

This is a song that I originally wrote and recorded 17 years ago. Kelly Clark sang it then, too. We were both just getting started in the Chicago theater scene. Since then, we’ve both gone on to do a lot of shows at various theaters around the city but this is the first time we’ve worked together again since the 1990 recording. Cicada Lover was played on the local radio stations then and was a popular number on the Dr. Demento show.

We just re-recorded the new version (we call it Cicado 2.0) last week to celebrate the imminent return of the 17-year-locusts to Chicago.

April 7, 2007

Santisuk Vibul’ s Cicada Photos of Genus Dundubia from Bagkok, Thailand

Filed under: Dundubia | Thailand — Dan @ 10:57 am

Santisuk Vibul’ s Cicada Photos of Genus Dundubia from Bagkok, Thailand:

Santisuk Vibul' s Cicada Photos of Genus Dundubia from Bagkok, Thailand.

Santisuk Vibul' s Cicada Photos of Genus Dundubia from Bagkok, Thailand.

Santisuk Vibul' s Cicada Photos of Genus Dundubia from Bagkok, Thailand.

Santisuk Vibul' s Cicada Photos of Genus Dundubia from Bagkok, Thailand.

Santisuk Vibul' s Cicada Photos of Genus Dundubia from Bagkok, Thailand.

Broodmaps with Google Maps

Filed under: Magicicada — Dan @ 10:46 am

In my spare time (not a lot lately) I’ve been working on Google maps for plotting Magicicada Brood maps. I came up with a brood map for 2004 Brood X, but in it’s current state it’s very processor-intensive because it loads an XML file with about 300 entires, and each entry requires a call to Google. It’s not ready for “prime time” (still alpha, not even beta). I’m going to recode it to work off of longitude and latitude, and that should improve performance.

Hopefully people will mail us their 2007 Brood XIII sightings so I can build a Brood XIII map as well. I might even set up a form that lets people find their location on a map, and then submit it as longitude and latitude rather an actual address (for privacy reasons).

2004 Brood X map.
brood x map

April 3, 2007

Brood XIII t-shirts and other stuff

Filed under: Brood XIII | Pop Culture — Dan @ 9:42 pm

People have started asking for Brood XIII shirts and other stuff like mugs and pillows, so I made them. The cicadas will be in the ground for about 2 months but the shirts are here. I recommend that you don’t buy one unless you see (and hear) the actual cicadas. Otherwise it’s like wearing a Bahamas t-shirt without ever going there. 🙂

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