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Periodic landscape tips & happenings for our customers....

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Organic Plant Care LLC

Cultivating Sustainable Landscapes, One Property at a Time

They're Heeeere....(almost)!!  

The Brood II cicadas were last seen in 1996.  Since then, they've been deep in the soil feeding on the sap from tree roots in the Northeast.  Though they may be a bit of a nuisance for a period of 4-6 weeks, this 17-year phenomenon is actually quite fascinating and considered a beneficial event for the most part. Billions of cicadas will be singing their mating song, which, at times, could make conversing over them difficult.  

17-Year Cicadas coming to your neighborhood soon!


Here's what you can expect......

These cicadas prefer hardwood trees, so we're likely to see more inland than down in the sandy pinelands.  Some tip-pruning will occur in trees where females lay their eggs.  You will no doubt see leaves wilt and die, with damaged twigs breaking off and falling to the ground.  Once the eggs hatch into larvae, they'll drop to the ground and begin their journey back into the soil, not to emerge again until 2030.  

Mature trees are able to tolerate this damage with little to no effect on the health of the trees.  Fruit and nut trees, as well as young trees and saplings under 5 years old could suffer noticeable damage, however.  Some experts recommend covering these trees with pond netting or white row cover fabric once you see the nymphs beginning to emerge and remove it once the egg-laying period ends.  If any of your valuable trees are severely affected with branch tip dieback resulting from egg laying activity, you should consider deep root fertilizing to improve plant health and vigor.  Fertilization will boost root growth activity to help offset stress.

Among the benefits of the cicada invasion, soil aeration and a smorgasbord for predators top the list.  The root feeding done by nymphs during their 17 year period in the soil is considered to have an inconsequential effect on the health of most trees.  

These Brood II cicadas don't sting or bite, and are relatively harmless.  Though because of their sheer numbers, you may want to keep your screens and doors shut to keep out unwanted visitors.  As their cycle comes to an end, keep a broom handy to sweep them out into the lawn where they will decompose, adding organic matter to your soil.

So, no need to panic.... there's little you can do nor little to worry about.  

Once the soil reaches 64 degrees, the nymphs burrow up from deep in the soil where they've been feeding on sap from tree roots for the last 17 years. Once they emerge, they climb a nearby tree and shed their nymphal exoskeleton.  During the next couple of hours, they are quite vulnerable to hungry predators as they wait for their adult bodies to harden.
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Male cicadas produce their mating song, not with their wings like grasshoppers and crickets, but rather with a muscle that pulls on a series of ribs on their abdomen causing it buckle and then pop back out.  Females use their front two legs to make small slits into the tips of small branches into which they deposit their eggs.  
YOU may not consider them so, but cicadas are an absolute delicacy for birds, reptiles, many animals, and even your pets too!  They're an excellent source of protein and fat.  
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