L.S., Philadelphia: How can you control or eliminate the cicadas? Is there any device installed outdoors that attracts and kills them?
Roylance: Pesticides will only kill other beneficial insects and threaten
the pets and wildlife who eat cicadas, and then thousands of the survivors
next door will invade your yard. Time will kill them all for free in six
weeks, and their offspring won't be back until 2021.
Kensington: Can you create a habitat for them to watch them emerge?
We found a ton of the nymphs in our backyard. Or is it really that easy to
see them emerge on the trees outside?
Roylance: If you have lots of nymphs,
you will see plenty of them as they climb the trees, molt and transform
into adults. They'll be everywhere.
BJ Walas, Columbia: How did a cicada fall down into our fireplace last
weekend? It was a full-grown one and had shed its former skin (yuck). It
was captured and disposed of pronto ... Those beady red eyes? Eek! I'll
never forget that night! This was on May 1 or 2, so this guy got an
Roylance: There are always a few early risers. They usually meet an unhappy
Nicole, Baltimore: Do cicadas carry germs?
Roylance: They are not disease vectors. But they have just crawled out of
the dirt, so it is advisable to clean and cook them before eating.
Joann, Hampstead: How can I keep my wimpy teen-age daughters from freaking
out about the cicadas? They're convinced it'll be like some horror film.
Roylance: Pluck a few of the empty exoskeletons from your trees and bring
them inside for the girls to see and touch, then catch a male adult and let
them hold him and hear him buzz. One on one, they're pretty cool.
Gennette, Ellicott City: Should I protect my peach tree from the cicada?
Roylance: Nurseries say only the youngest trees are at risk of significant
damage as the female cicadas slit the bark of small twigs and lay their
eggs. For the rest, the twig death is only a minor pruning.
Veronica Hall, Ellicott City: Should we not plant a new mulch bed with
shrubs until this passes?
Roylance: The plants aren't at risk, but wait until the end of May anyway.
Digging in the bed will injure emerging nymphs.
Marjorie Banks, Baltimore: Will the cicadas eat or cause any damage to
flowers in gardens, boxwood shrub, azaleas or any other shrubs? Do I need to
cover my hostas?
Roylance: Adult cicadas can't chew, but they will suck moisture from soft
plant parts to replace fluids lost to evaporation, which does no harm. Any
holes in your hostas are probably from slugs.
Brendan Davis, Annandale, Va.: Is there a chart somewhere that shows the
years that each brood of 17-year and 13-year cicadas emerges? It would be
interesting to see what years have no cicada emergence at all, and what
years have an intersecting emergence of 17-year and 13-year cicadas.
Roylance: There are no emergences in 2005 or 2006. For a complete rundown,
go to http://cicadamania.com/
Bob Friday, Owings Mills: Do cicadas damage trees and, if so, what can be
done to prevent this? I have a new dogwood and old red maple.
Roylance: Damage to small twigs during egg-laying will cause "flagging,"
the wilting and death of leaves at the ends of branches, but it's no
problem for established trees. After the males start singing, you can
protect very young trees with cheesecloth or netting.