Cicadas

It’s time for the cicadas to return to Hampshire County.

This “brood” of cicadas is Brood X (10), which last emerged in 2004. This spring will see a return of Brood X on the East Coast, from Delaware to Georgia, Indiana to Kentucky and, of course, West Virginia.

“I think they’re coming,” said Bill Pownell with the Division of Forestry’s Romney office. “They skip around so much. We have ’em all over the state at different times.”

The Eastern Panhandle will be seeing these insects in full this spring; Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral and Morgan counties, in particular.

There are actually 3 cicada species that emerge every 17 years. The WV Extension Service notes that these species are only found in eastern North America.

These periodical cicadas spend most of their life cycle underground, feeding on the roots of deciduous trees, and when they’re developed into their 17th year, they emerge from the soil.

When can Hampshire County expect to see (and hear) cicadas this spring?

Cicadas emerge from the ground when the soil temperature reaches about 64 degrees. Generally, this giant dirt exodus happens in mid-May, and the insects die off by late June. The emergence itself will only last a few days, and usually 1st occurs at dusk.

In their 1st 24 hours above-ground, cicadas flock to the trees and begin their deafening calls which can approach 100 decibels (almost the intensity of a chain saw), emanating from the males in their attempt to attract mates.

Something to look forward to this spring.

Cicadas may cause harm to woody plants during their egg-laying process, where they slice into branches to drop their eggs. This can result in the tips of the branches to wither in a condition called “flagging.” This generally occurs in trees with longer branches as opposed to small, bushy plants. Though “flagging” branches might be less picturesque when it comes to the landscape, there isn’t much evidence that cicadas actually are a long-term threat to plant and tree life.

They don’t harm people either, the WVU Extension Service points out. They don’t bite or sting humans or their pets.

Though long-term harm to plant life isn’t likely, there are still some ways you can prepare for Brood X to make their home in Hampshire this spring.

Studies show insecticides to cicada-proof trees might not be the best avenue. Netting the trees with mesh blocks cicadas from laying eggs on tree-branches results in the least amount of damage, said Michael J. Raupp with the Tree Care Industry Magazine. If you determine which of your trees are at most risk for potential cicada damage, you can prepare accordingly for spring to arrive.

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