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  3. Identify and Control Cicadas


Cicadas are large, loud, buzzing insects that create a deafening chorus on hot summer nights. Often mistakenly called “locusts," cicadas have unusual life cycles. Some types, known as periodical cicadas, emerge all at once every 13 or 17 years, depending on their range. Annual cicadas, also called “dog day" cicadas, emerge sporadically every year throughout the hot, muggy period known as the "dog days" of summer. Cicada noise can be disruptive, but these pests can also damage plants above and below ground.

Identification: Many species of cicadas exist in various regions of the United States. All are distinctive, yet they clearly resemble each other. Cicada wings typically extend almost double the length of their bodies and may be anywhere from less than 1 inch long to nearly three times that length. Periodical cicadas are black with bulging reddish-orange eyes and orange-veined wings. Larger annual cicadas have green bodies with black markings and green-veined wings.

Signs/Damage: Cicadas spend much of their life cycle underground, where they suck sap from plant roots. Extensive feeding stunts plant growth. Once cicada nymphs emerge from the ground, they climb up trees or other vegetation and molt. The outer skin, left clinging in place and split right down the midback, is a certain sign of cicadas. After adults go through their noisy mating period, females slice holes into small twigs of trees and shrubs and lay their eggs. The split twigs droop and die back. Small plants may be damaged severely or killed.

Control: Effective control of cicadas starts as soon as you see emerging nymphs or hear the shrill, buzzing call of adults. GardenTech® brand offers several options to kill and control cicadas and prevent plant damage:

  • Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate, used with pump-style sprayer, is ideal for treating lawn areas and small trees and shrubs at risk for cicada damage. Spray all plant surfaces thoroughly, concentrating on small twigs where cicadas may lay eggs.
  • Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray attaches to a common garden hose to treat lawn areas and homes perimeters along with small trees and shrubs. It mixes with water as you spray, providing thorough coverage for cicada-prone areas.
  • Sevin®-5 Ready-To-Use 5% Dust kills periodical cicadas on ornamental shrubs and flowers. Apply a thin, thorough dusting to affected parts of the plant at the first sign of cicada damage.

Tip: Large, mature trees can withstand most cicada damage, but young trees suffer when populations are high. Cover young trees with netting to protect against egg-laying adults.

Always read product labels and follow the instructions carefully.

GardenTech is a registered trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc.

Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.

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