Understanding Periodic Cicadas: What the Apartment Industry Needs to Know

Some annoying, temporary “residents” will soon come to communities located from the Carolinas to Connecticut. Their “stay” will be approximately six weeks, and they will likely be among the most memorable you will ever have.
Red-eyed, noise-polluting insects referred to as Brood II cicadas, 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.


Upon hitting the skies, they will reproduce, and then the next generation will retreat below the earth’s surface for another decade and a half. If they haven’t invaded your areas yet, they will by June, and will remain active for approximately six weeks. They differ from the annual cicadas that appear toward the end of each summer.


In anticipation of these insects, please consider:

  • Cicadas 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.
  • It is not uncommon to find hundreds of thousands to millions of periodic cicadas per acre.
  • 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!
  • They will appear in very localized regions. Areas void of mature trees are not likely to see (or hear!) cicadas.
  • 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.
  • To prevent cicadas from coming indoors, make sure all windows have screens and remind residents to close doors to the outside.
  • Nuisance wildlife (raccoons, possums, birds, foxes, etc.) are attracted to cicadas. Because of this, property managers should be extra diligent in removing other wildlife temptations such as food and harborage.
  • 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. Pets and even young children are likely to consume the skins. While such behaviors should be discouraged, there is no known harm from ingesting small numbers of the skins. The skins can be raked up and disposed of.
  • Periodic cicadas actually provide a natural aeration system for grassy areas so they may remove a bit of required lawn maintenance.
  • After the cicadas are gone, it will be common to see “flagging” in trees; this dangling of small tree branches occurs because of damage caused when the females cut the branches to lay their eggs. Often the twigs and small branches will fall to the ground while larger branches will continue growing.
  • Each female cicada can lay between 400 and 600 eggs, resulting in enormous populations.

While pest management professionals do not provide treatment for this pest, many can offer advice on exclusion or help if there’s an increased presence of nuisance. Learn more.