Everything You Need to Know about These Insects
Here at proof. pest control, we are experts in all things pests. To help you stay informed, we are sharing some of our favorite cicada fun facts and answering a few of your most commonly asked questions. Continue reading to learn more.
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What Are Cicadas?
Cicadas are part of a superfamily of insects known as Cicadoidea. There are more than 3,300 species of cicadas in the world, which mostly fall into one of two categories: annuals and periodicals.
Annual cicadas spend between 1 and 9 years of their life cycles as underground larvae. Unlike periodical cicadas, their emergence from the ground is not synchronized, so some members of each species appear each year.
There are four species of annual cicadas found in North America, including:
Periodical cicadas (aka Magicada) spend the majority of their lives underground, feeding on nutrients from tree and plant roots. They only emerge from the ground once every 13 or 17 years, with the primary goal of mating and laying eggs before dying. These insects typically emerge in groups of millions of other cicadas in an effort to protect themselves against predators and ensure that the majority of the population is able to successfully reproduce.
There are seven species of periodical cicadas, all of which are found in eastern North America. These species include:
- Magicada septendecim
- Magicada cassinii
- Magicada septendecula
- Magicada tredecim
- Magicada neotredecim
- Magicada tredecassini
- Magicada tredecula
What Do Cicadas Look Like?
Cicadas are large insects that can range between one and three inches in length, depending on the species. They are known for having prominent eyes set wide apart on the sides of the head, six sets of legs, two pairs of wings, and short antennae between the eyes.
Are Cicadas Dangerous?
While the thought of encountering thousands, or even millions, of insects at once might terrify you, you can rest easy knowing that cicadas aren’t dangerous. These insects do not bite, sting, or contain venom, but it is possible that they may confuse you for a tree and attempt to feed on you.
Many people also wonder if cicadas are dangerous for their pets. Experts have determined that it is ok for your pets to eat a couple of cicadas, but overindulging can result in serious stomach upset or vomiting.
Benefits of Cicadas
Cicadas are actually quite beneficial to the environment, which makes putting up with millions of insects for weeks at a time much more bearable.
Some of the key benefits of cicadas include:
- They prune mature trees
- They aerate the soil
- Their dead bodies provide trees with nitrogen
- They contribute to population booms in predators (wolves, foxes, bears, cats, etc.)
- They are a valuable food source for predators
- They improve water filtration into the ground
- Their dead bodies add nutrients to the soil
Why Are Cicadas So Loud?
Anyone who has ever been near cicadas is familiar with their high-pitched song. This song is actually a mating call used by males to attract females of their species. Males sing by flexing their tymbal muscles, which are drum-like organs found in their abdomens. Their abdomens are mostly hollow, which enables them to amplify their songs. Cicada mating calls are so loud that they reach the pain threshold in humans who come too close, repel birds, and even have the potential to damage their own ears.
In order for multiple species to coexist, each one has its own distinct mating call.
Are Cicadas Bad for My Garden?
To lay their eggs, female cicadas burrow tiny holes into tree trunks and branches. While this likely will not kill a mature tree, young trees often die in the event of a cicada outbreak. Additionally, they can cause minor damage to plants, grasses, and cash crops. If you live in an area with cicadas, it is usually best to save your planting until after their breeding season has come to a close. Cicadas do not eat flowers, fruits, or produce, so these parts of your garden should be safe from damage for the most part.
How to Get Rid of Cicadas
Cicadas will come to your property in such large numbers that attempting a chemical treatment will be of little benefit to you. For the most part, these insects are harmless and will go away within 4-6 weeks, so a little bit of patience is all you need.
However, some non-chemical ways to get rid of cicadas include:
- Using a garden hose to knock cicadas off your plants
- Placing netting over your valuable plants
- Using your hand to gently remove cicadas from your garden
- Placing cheesecloth around your younger trees
Call proof. pest control to Learn More
Here at proof. pest control, we are committed to handling your every pest problem. If you have any questions about cicadas, we are more than happy to answer them for you. Additionally, we offer comprehensive pest programs for those pest problems that won’t go away on their own in a few weeks.
Our team can protect your home against over 30 different types of pests, including: