Brood X Cicadas will be emerging this year after a 17-year hiatus. Some people refer to them as “locusts” but they are cicadas that have a life cycle of 17 years. This species produces HUGE numbers of offspring ( in the billions) in an attempt to overwhelm predators. This survival strategy is called predator satiation [i][iii].
This variety of cicadas are typically black, red and orange. The last time the Brood X emerged was in 2004. The Brood X typically emerges in early May to late June. The temperature of the soil ( above 64F) triggers them to emerge from their 17-year nap. It has also been said a warm rain within this time period will trigger a Brood X emergence [v].
Why 17 Years
Several studies [ii] have answered why this variety emerges every 17 years. The answer is related to prime numbers. 17 is a prime number and this makes it difficult for predators to synchronize with them. Annual cicadas ( varieties emerge every year) have wasps as natural predators but these wasps do not feed on the Brood X as they are only present every 17 years. The Brood X has a unique strategy against predators.
Chances are that you have heard the sound of cicadas outdoors. If not, check out this video . Only males produce that famous sound. They possess organs on their abdomen called tymbals. These organs act similar to a human vocal chord and vibrate to produce sound. Males will make different calls for different reasons ( mating and communication) and each species has a unique tone[ii].
Bad For Gardens
All species of cicada feed on the fluids inside trees and other plants, “sap”. They have specialized anatomy ( slender straw-like mouths) to allow them to extract this fluid. This can cause harm or even cause death depending on the severity. They tend to like young and/or weak trees. It’s best to wrap these plants/trees in insect barrier netting if you notice a cicada infection. Be on the lookout for the hard, empty, exoskeleton. It’s a tell-tale sign of a cicada population living nearby.
Billions of 5 Eyed Invaders
Cicadas have 2 large eyes that are the main light-collecting organs. In between these 2 eyes, they possess 3 small eyes called ocelli. It is thought these extra eyes are used to detect light and darkness while the larger eyes gather color and depth. [iv]
How To Control Brood X Cicadas
If you come across these cicadae don’t panic, they are several products we can use to control them. Most likely you will have to try a few approaches as they are hungry and have large populations.
Our first choice is HY Garden, Pet, and Livestock Dust. This product is listed for use on Cicadas and the genus of the Brood X, Magicicada.
We suggest this product as it coats the surfaces of vegetation and allows the ingredients to act on the Cicadas. It is also safe for your pets and livestock.
If you prefer a ready-to-spray product, we would suggest HY Bug Blaster . This product has no odor, will not stain your vegetation, and provides up to 4 months of protection. Be sure to use it with Spreader Sticker for best results.
2021 has the potential for many Cicada problems for us gardeners. Be sure to keep careful watch over your plants and address any issues as soon as you notice them. If you have any questions be sure to ask them on our FAQ page. Happy Gardening!
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