How do I protect my trees from periodical cicadas?

Question:

How do I protect my trees from periodical cicadas?

Answer:

Female cicadas lay eggs on small twigs and the damage can cause some twig die-back (also called flagging).  For a large tree this is not a concern, but if possible you can protect small or high value trees and shrubs.

Female periodical cicada laying eggs
Female cicada inserting eggs beneath the bark of a tree branch.  This damage can cause the end of the branch past the damage to die.  It is harmless to large trees.  

Cicadas do not move around a great deal so there is only need for concern if there are cicadas emerging in your yard.  Large populations of periodical cicadas will be primarily in areas that have historically been wooded and are relatively undisturbed, so in Iowa, often emergences are concentrated in parks and other protected habitats.  

If your property is in a historically wooded area in an area the brood will occur then you can purchase garden netting or tulle fabric and be prepared to wrap it around small trees – basically bag the whole tree.  

Egg laying occurs about a week after emergence, so there is time to deploy any protection if you see large numbers of cicada nymphs and adults in your yard.

Answered by
  • Director of the North Central IPM Center
Last updated on
May 3, 2024