The long-anticipated magical appearance of Brood X (10) of the 17-year periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) has not yet gotten underway in Ohio. The clock is still ticking for the cicadas to take the stage en masse. My “cicada dig” yesterday in Butler County revealed cicada nymphs that had not yet developed the internal coloring indicating they are about to spring from the soil.
This does not mean we won’t soon see periodical cicadas emerging in urban heat islands. However, much of the geographical range of Brood X in Ohio covers rural areas such as the location where I excavated the nymphs yesterday.
This is the third of what is anticipated to be a series of BYGL Alerts dedicated to Brood X happenings in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. You can read the other Alerts by clicking these hotlinks:
Some Music for Your Listening Pleasure
Planning a Cicada Party? With social distancing, of course. Here’s a short playlist to get your party rolling as we wait for the mass appearance of Brood X!
These songs were gleaned from “Cicadamania;” an outstanding online cicada resource
2020, Southern Culture On The Skids - Cicada Rock 2020 (Brood IX); a real toe-tapper, all six of them:
2016, The Cicada Song, CincyPolly; a song about the brief but exciting life of a young female cicada:
2013, CICADA, Hannah Gansen; a love affair seventeen years in the making:
2013, Cicada Song 2013 - Sicka Cicadas (Brood II Re-mix), Kathy Ashworth; the title says it all:
2012, CICADA (Lyric Video), Liam Titcomb; you can sing along with this one:
Keep in mind that periodical cicadas co-evolved with their hardwood hosts. They are not tree-killers. Their oviposition damage to established trees does not affect the overall health of the trees. In fact, the tip dieback serves as natural pruning causing buds to produce more stems and foliage next season.
In most cases, management of the periodical cicada is not necessary. On the other hand, fruit trees and newly transplanted landscape trees may need to be protected from oviposition damage using tree wrapping.
However, it's important to use appropriate protective materials and proper application methods; improper tree wrapping can cause more damage than cicadas! Also, homeowners should assess whether or not their location places their landscape trees at risk.
I provided some “do’s and don’ts” with tree wrapping in my last BYGL Alert on Brood X. Below are pictures showing a recommended wrapping method using netting as well as an improper method using row crop cover fabric. Unfortunately, we’re getting reports from homeowners that netting and other proper wrapping material are becoming difficult to find.
I received a phone call from a homeowner in southwest Ohio named Cindy who applied outside-the-box thinking to solve her tree-wrapping challenge. She used wedding tulle fabric. Frankly, being a guy who lives under a rock, I had never heard of this fabric! Indeed, I first wrote it as “wedding tool” in the notes I was taking during our phone conversation.
Cindy purchased two fabric bolts that measured 108 inches wide and 150 feet long. She paid $33.00 per bolt for her online order and was able to wrap all of her trees with some fabric leftover. I agreed to keep Cindy’s full name out of this Alert, but we both agreed on the appropriate name of her wrapping method.
As you can see, the fabric allows for good airflow keeping the foliage dry, and the weight of the fabric limits the deformation of new growth. According to Cindy, the downside is that the lightweight fabric presented some challenges with draping it over the trees particularly under windy conditions. She also had to custom-cut the fabric and close the side opening with staples. However, in my opinion, the results of her creative thinking were worthwhile.
Help Science: Join the Cicada Safari
There remain many unanswered questions about Brood X including the exact geographical distribution. Cicada populations are often highly localized with large concentrations commonly near areas with no cicadas. Future predictions depend heavily on where we do and don’t see periodical cicadas this spring.
Gene Kritsky worked with the Center for IT Engagement at Mount St. Joseph to develop an easy-to-use smartphone mapping app titled Cicada Safari. The free app can be download from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
All you need to do is snap a picture then hit the submit button. Once your image is confirmed as being a periodical cicada (and not your cat), the latitude and longitude for your observation are added to the cicada map.
I strongly urge that you download the app and use it to help us learn more about Brood X. Become part of the Cicada Safari!
Click on the hotlink below to access the Cicada Safari website