Originally written by Debbie Roos
Branch of a young possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) showing
damage from where the cicada deposited eggs in the stem.
Many folks who experienced large cicada populations in 2011 were left with damaged young trees and bushes where the female cicadas cut slits into tree branches to lay their eggs. The cicadas prefer stems and branches about the diameter of a pencil to deposit their eggs; on mature trees only the branch tips are damaged and the trees recover but on young trees the damage can occur on the main trunk and on primary lateral branches, causing significant damage. Cicadas only feed on woody perennials, so vegetable and/or strawberry crops are not at risk.
Farmers and gardeners who have young plantings of blueberries, brambles, and fruit trees have plants that are potentially vulnerable to cicada injury. The good news, according to NC State University Small Fruit Entomologist Dr. Hannah Burrack, is that in all likelihood the populations of the 17-year Brood II cicadas are not expected to be nearly as large in central North Carolina as the populations of the 13-year Brood XIX cicadas were back in 2011. So even if you were inundated with cicadas two years ago that does not mean you will be overrun this spring – the populations are completely different. The 17-year cicada populations are expected to be most numerous in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states; central North Carolina is at the southern end of the range of the Brood II cicadas. Based on the Brood II map, here in North Carolina most of the cicadas are expected to emerge a little northwest of the Triangle region (of course predicting emergence locations is not an exact science but is based on previous populations).