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Cicadas - A guide to identifying and protecting your landscape

June 2, 2022
Cicadas - A guide to identifying and protecting your landscape
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It sounds like something out of a horror movie. All at once, a massive amount of large insects emerge from the ground like zombies, creating a noisy din that can be heard over nearly everything and ravaging your landscape.

However, although the opinions from experts are mixed, cicadas are mostly harmless and cause only minor damage to trees and plants. Regardless, you want to be able to identify cicadas and protect your landscape from damage, no matter what. Read on below to learn about cicadas and what you can do to protect your trees and landscape from these pests.

What Is a Cicada?

What does a cicada look like? Cicadas are often called locusts because they look like insects referred to in the bible. But they are not locusts. In reality, they are related to aphids and leafhoppers. It’s also important to know that there are two different types of cicadas - annual and periodical cicadas. The annual cicadas show up in smaller numbers on a yearly basis, while the periodical cicadas (the ones you typically hear most about) come out every 13 to 17 years and arrive in tremendously large numbers… think billions (with a B).

How Do Cicadas Damage Landscape?

Cicadas look relatively terrifying, but are they dangerous to the landscape? Do cicadas eat plants? Do cicadas damage trees? And if so, what trees do cicadas like?

Luckily, there’s not much reason to lose sleep over these insects, as most of your plants, mature trees, and lawns will be just fine. However, if you have younger trees (think less than 2 years old) on your property, you need to make sure they’re protected. Female cicadas will cut slits in smaller branches to create an area to lay their eggs. This process kills the branches, so if you have trees that are mostly made up of younger smaller branches, they may be in trouble when cicadas arrive. Additionally, if you have sick trees, cicadas can wreak havoc on them as well.

Cicadas Damage tree

How to Protect Trees from Cicadas?

But how do you protect trees from cicadas? Luckily, there’s a pretty simple method for protecting your young trees against cicadas. The answer is insect netting, but there are some important things to know.

  • Make sure you get netting that has openings smaller than a centimeter.
  • You’re going to need to cover your entire tree in this netting for about a month.
  • Then you’ll need to use twine and zip ties to make sure the netting is firmly sealed where the trunk meets the canopy of the trees.
  • Your best option is to have a professional take care of this for you to ensure the netting is properly installed and effective.


Although cicadas appear only once in a while, they can be a real problem for young and diseased trees on your landscape. But as you can see above, there’s an effective way to prepare for the swarm. Get ready for them with Earth Development. Contact us today!

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