It's A Bird...It's A Plane...It's A Cicada!

 

Back in summer 2004, freakish insects as big as a gerbil (give or take) and as loud as a Kardashian were slamming against the windshield of my Mom’s minivan as we headed to my high school graduation. 

In the years prior, my parents had already begun worrying about how they would throw an outdoor graduation party while these ominous pests, known as cicadas, were treating our backyard like their own personal landing strip. 

In fact, the buzz—excuse the pun—of their arrival was so great that people in my neighborhood were selling lime green t-shirts that July that said, “I survived the summer of the cicada.” I imagine Dorothy purchased similar celebratory apparel when the Flying Monkeys hit the road.

Guess what, folks? They’re back!

Brood II cicadas are coming to communities located from the Carolinas to Connecticut. Their “stay” will be approximately six weeks, and they will likely be among the most memorable residents you will ever have.

These red-eyed, noise-polluting insects are fortunately a cause for wonder and not a cause for concern, according to the National Pest Management Association. They will emerge from the ground once ground temperatures reach 64 degrees, after spending the past 17 years underground as nymphs. (The uninvited guests at my graduation party were Brood X cicadas, Brood II’s equally annoying cousins.)

Upon invading the skies, cicadas will reproduce, and then the next generation will retreat below Earth’s surface for another decade and a half. If they haven’t invaded your areas yet, they will by June—differing from the annual cicadas that appear toward the end of each summer.

Yes, they’re creepy. But what else should we know about cicadas?

1. They are a nuisance pest and do not pose any threats to humans or structures. However, periodical cicadas can cause damage to young trees growing in the landscape. To prevent this, cover tree saplings with netting or cheesecloth. 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.

2. It is not uncommon to find hundreds of thousands to millions of periodic cicadas per acre. The perfect curb appeal accessory!

3. Cicadas make a great deal of noise. In fact, as a group, their noise can reach 90 decibels. That’s the equivalent of a rock concert, or a very, very loud resident.

4. There is nothing that can be done to prevent cicadas. Those who are fearful of insects may wish to spend more time indoors while cicadas are active. Community pool party in June? Maybe not so much.

5. To prevent cicadas from coming indoors, make sure all windows have screens and remind residents to close doors to the outside.

6. Nuisance wildlife are attracted to cicadas. Because of this, property managers should be extra diligent in removing other wildlife temptations, such as food and harborage.  

7. Periodic cicadas actually provide a natural aeration system for grassy areas so they may remove a bit of required lawn maintenance. Thanks?

8. Cicada nymphs will shed their skins once they emerge from the ground. It will be common to find the skins throughout yards and common areas. The skins—which cause no known harm if ingested—can be raked up and disposed of.

But look on the bright side—when July rolls around, you can throw a “Cicada Survivor” party for your residents. I know a lady who makes t-shirts…

For more, check out Maintenance Insider in the May issue of units Magazine, which mailed May 9.