Cicadas have potential to cause serious damage to trees

Cicadas have potential to cause serious damage to trees


6 News Reporter

GREENBACK (WATE) - The 13-year cicadas are here in East Tennessee.

Most of them have been reported around Greenback, on Highway 95 and near Marble Hill Road.

These bugs can do some serious damage.

"I can't tell If they have done any damage to them," said Bruce Brackin, as he looked up at his maple trees in Greenback.

On Thursday, thousands of cicadas covered his trees. He plans to keep a closer eye on them when they swarm his trees again.

"I didn't know they did harm to them," said Brackin.

Jerome Grant, a biological control professor at the University of Tennessee, says Brackin is not alone.

The way cicadas damage trees is unique.
"The main damage is caused by a female when she lays eggs," said Grant. "She has an egg laying device that is like a knife. She comes right through the twig and cuts a slit, and in that slit she lays her eggs. Then as the tree starts to grow, that slit opens, and generally everything beyond that slit will die."

Grant says there are several things you can do to protect your trees.

First, delay pruning your trees until the cicadas are gone. This can help remove some of the limbs they have damaged.

Another way to protect smaller trees is by covering them with a breathable covering like cheesecloth.

It would also be a good idea to put out additional bird feeders because birds naturally prey on cicadas. 

Grant also says eating them yourself is an option. "It tastes like asparagus actually," said Grant. "I am not a big asparagus fan, so I'm not a big cicadas fan."

Brackin says next time he will remember those tips, but he will pass on eating them.

Experts say cicadas usually like to lay eggs on dogwoods, oaks, maples and many types of fruit trees.

They also say pesticides usually do not work to kill cicadas.

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