Cicadas Are Causing Quite the Buzz: Tips to Reduce Your Stress During the Insect Invasion

Picture1For 17 years, cicadas have been nesting underground waiting for the perfect conditions to make their appearance. And ta-dah, that time has arrived. Over the next four to six weeks, those living on the east coast from Georgia to Connecticut will need to find a way to cohabitate with the insects. Cicadas, although great for the local ecosystem (see below), can cause some annoyances in our daily lives including the drum-like “love song” that male cicadas make to attract a female partner. So here are a few tips to help you handle our little uninvited guests:

 

  • Protect trees and gardens: Homeowners who are concerned about their young hardwood or fruit trees (less than 5 feet tall) can protect them by wrapping branches with pond netting or spun polyolefin. Since Cicadas only consume liquid from trees, home flower and fruit gardens are not at any risk.
  • Keep animals safe: We can protect our animal companions from eating cicadas by keeping cats indoors and taking dogs for leashed walks. Although cicadas will not bite animals (nor humans) and cooking-up live cicadas may be a delicacy for some, eating a dead cicada can be potentially harmful to your pet.
  • Dress appropriately: This year, we will see more cicadas than usual. Depending on the area you live in, cicadas are predicted to outnumber people 600 to 1. Because cicadas will harbor in trees and will be emerging from the ground, you may want to consider wearing closed-toe shoes and carrying an umbrella.
  • Children: Cicadas, though somewhat unattractive, are not harmful to children. Let your kids know that the insects will not sting or bite. Actually, the six week period of infestation can actually be a unique learning experience. Children may like to collect Cicada shells after they shed and the rare occurrence may also provide an opportunity to teach kids about unusual species.

Just remember that Cicadas are a benefit to our environment. The Chimney-like tunnels they dig to emerge naturally arrogate the soil allowing more water to reach the trees’ roots. Also, female cicadas dig tiny trenches in young tree  branches to lay their eggs inside. This natural pruning helps strengthen trees so they produce more fruit and blossoms. And when cicadas die, their bodies become a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Remember: cicadas are our friends.

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