Periodical Cicadas

Control Tactics

Periodical cicadas are especially damaging to young plants which have the most desirable branch size for egg laying. Large, established trees can withstand considerable flagging.

Netting placed over a Amelanchier tree to protect it from periodical cicadas.

Option 1: Cultural Control - Delay Tree Planting

If a periodical cicada emergence is predicted, it may be best to postpone new orchard plantings until the following spring. Home gardeners are encouraged to delay planting until late summer or fall, after the adult cicadas have died.

Option 2: Cultural Control - Prevent Egg-laying

Trees in small orchards or yards can be protected with nylon netting or cheesecloth during the egg laying period. The netting should have a mesh of no less than 1/4 inch and should be placed over the trees when the first male songs are heard. The netting should be tied to the trunk beneath the lower branches, and can be removed after adult activity has ended.

Branches with eggs can be pruned out and destroyed, but this needs to be done within the three week egg development time.

Option 3: Cultural Control - Remove Eggs

Prune out and destroy young twigs that have been damaged by egg laying within a three week period after eggs are laid. This will prevent newly emerged nymphs from reaching the ground.

Option 4: Chemical Control - Nurseries or Orchards

Ornamental nurseries and orchards near woods should be scouted every two to three days during the egg laying period to detect migrating females. Sprays may be necessary if egg laying activity is apparent or continues after spraying. Insecticides labeled for use on cicadas include carbaryl (=Sevin®), chlorpyrifos (=Dursban®, Lorsban®), esfenvalerate (=Asana®) and resmethrin. Fruit orchards using methomyl (=Lannate®, Nudrin®), oxamyl (=Vydate®) or permethrin (=Pounce®, Ambush®) in a cover spray need not add a special cicada insecticide. Applications of Sevin or Vydate within 21 days after apple full bloom may cause thinning. The use of pyrethroids, Vydate or Sevin is cautioned in orchards because of the subsequent problems with increased spider mite densities due to toxicity to predatory mites.

These carpenter ants have killed an emerging adult periodical cicada. Several insects, birds and small mammals feed on the emerging cicadas. Many other cicadas die when nymphs crawl over molting nymphs, causing them to drop to the ground.

Option 5: Chemical Control - Landscape Ornamentals

Spraying the ground and trees to control periodical cicadas is not generally recommended. However, if small trees are present and cicadas are numerous in the area, chemical controls may be warranted. The insecticides carbaryl (=Sevin®), resmethrin, and permethrin (=Bug-B-Gon Multi-Purpose®) have products labeled to protect shrubs and trees in landscapes. Either can be applied about once a week, although blooming plants should be avoided to preserve honey bees and other pollinating insects.