Cicada invasion 2024: Are these insects coming to attack your plants this spring?

A big cicada revival is expected to hit the United States this spring and summer.

Two broods of cicadas are making a simultaneous return for the first time in 221 years – and billions of insects are expected to emerge across the country.

The two groups of cicadas, broods XIX and XIII, will emerge from underground in 17 states across the country, according to Fox Weather.

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Despite the large number of cicadas expected to land, the insects are “relatively harmless,” according to Ryan Fowley, pest control expert at Excel Pest Services in New Jersey.

“Due to their numbers, it is not possible to completely remove cicadas from our gardens,” he told Fox News Digital in an interview. “But fear not, as they are not harmful to us, our plants or our crops.”

A close-up image of a cicada

Billions of cicadas are expected to emerge in 17 US states in May 2024, experts say. (Courtesy of Excel Pest Services)

“They do not bite or sting, have virtually no defensive response, and they are mostly safe for our pets, as long as they are in their infancy when ingested.”

Larger adults have crusty exoskeletons that could cause pets to suffocate, he added.

Americans are “very likely” to spot cicadas in their yards this spring, according to Fowley.

“It’s noisier than a tractor or lawn mower, and even comparable to a jet plane taking off.”

The insects have black bodies measuring about 1.5 inches long and a wingspan of about 3 inches, he said.

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Even if cicadas aren't seen, they will certainly be heard, Fowley noted, because they are “well known for producing a chorus of mating calls that can exceed 100 decibels.”

He added: “It's noisier than a tractor or lawn mower, and even comparable to a jet plane taking off.”

boy holding a cicada

Americans are “very likely” to spot cicadas in their gardens this spring, an expert said. But even if cicadas aren't seen, they will certainly be heard, one expert noted, because they are “well known for producing a chorus of mating calls that can exceed 100 decibels.” (iStock)

Frank Meek, technical services manager at Orkin, a pest control provider headquartered in Atlanta, confirmed to Fox News Digital that around mid-to-late May, two broods of cicadas will emerge from the ground.

Cicadas only live about six weeks, according to Fowley, and are mostly inactive at night.

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Insects are known to shed their exoskeletons, leaving empty, molted shells on the ground.

“There can be a lot of carcasses accumulating around our plants and gutters, so you may want to sweep them up periodically and add them to your compost,” Fowley advised.

empty cicada shells on a leaf

Empty cicada nymph skins remain in a tree after Brood XIII hatched June 11, 2007, in Willow Springs, Illinois. (Scott Olson)

Perhaps the biggest concern about cicadas is their activity in trees, the expert said, because they “tend to feed and lay eggs in new trees and shrubs.”

He warned: “If their rotting bodies are left by the roadside without being cleaned up, they can also cause rotting of surrounding foliage in your garden. »

Homeowners can discourage cicadas from laying eggs in younger trees by covering them with netting or cheesecloth throughout the spring and summer, Fowley suggested.

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“Larger, existing trees in your yard could benefit from a wrap or protection to prevent them from climbing and infesting the branches,” he said.

Wrapping the base of trees in foil or duct tape, Meek added, can “prevent the nymph form of the cicada from climbing the tree and becoming an adult.”

cicada graphic with garden tree

Decaying cicada bodies can cause surrounding foliage to rot, an expert has warned. (iStock)

“It is important to note that adults are flying insects and these barriers may have no effect on them,” he said.

Another method to reduce cicada numbers is to call out predators, Fowley said.

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“Encouraging predators, like birds, to come into the garden with bird food could also be a great way to reduce cicada numbers,” he said.

Despite popular belief, Meek stressed that cicadas are “not considered pests.”

cicada clinging to its molt

A diurnal cicada, Tibicen canicularis, clings to its nymphal exoskeleton after emerging from it in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August 29, 2023. (Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“Cicadas do not cause massive damage to plants and crops in their feeding habits,” he said.

“They can cause minor damage to young trees where they lay their eggs, but most trees recover quickly. Typically, [the insects are] noisy, but not dangerous or destructive.

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The reason cicadas are resurfacing this year is that many broods only come out to mate after “long periods of hibernation,” according to Fowley.

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“In 2024, two different generations will emerge at the same time,” he said. “A brood appears every 17 years, primarily in Illinois, and another appears elsewhere in the Midwest and Southeast every 13 years.”

The 13-year-old cicada, also known as Brood 19, has “one of the largest geographic emergences, spanning 14 states,” Meek noted.

A photo of a cicada on a leaf

Cicadas produce loud mating calls that can exceed 100 decibels. (Excel Pest Control Services)

“The 17-year cicada (also called Brood 13) will emerge in five Midwestern states,” he said.

Two states, Illinois and Indiana, will experience emergences of both broods.

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According to Fowley, cicadas from both broods are likely to appear in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin. and Virginia.

Sydney Borchers of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.

For more lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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