Cicadas in Evansville, Ind.: Dealing with the Unwelcome Guest

Hundreds of thousands of cicadas are coming to Evansville, Ind., this month. A report in announces this unwelcome guest. These are 17-year cicadas and are somewhat different from the dog day cicadas that we confront each year. These are smaller in size but they come in large numbers and are louder. They will stay till mid-July.

Big or small, cicadas seem to be scary. I have never seen these 17-year cicadas, but the ones that we see every summer are not one of my favorite insects. They are ugly. If you see a cicada from a close distance you will find them staring hard at you with those wide apart eyes. My little daughter is very scared when one comes inside our house or when she meets one in the garden. And they are noisy. At first you don’t notice the noise, but then it starts to get louder and finally it gets on your nerves and seems intolerable. Now we are told that we will have to deal with cicadas that are even louder!

Although scary, cicadas are not dangerous. They don’t bite or attack humans. But they harm plants. Female cicadas cut open slits in twigs of trees and lay their eggs. This cannot do much damage to mature trees except that some of their twigs dry and fall. But younger trees are damaged more, especially fruit trees and ornamental plants.

The 17-year cicada lives underground for 17 years, feeding on roots of trees. Then it creeps out, gets attached to a tree or wall, comes out of its outer shell and becomes the adult insect with orange veined wings and big scary eyes.

Now the question is if they come in large numbers how to deal with them? National Geographic has requested not to spray pesticides on them. So here is my alternative plan.

* Use ear plugs when the noise gets on your nerves.

* Sound of mowing attracts them as the frequency of that sound is similar to their mate’s call. But they are less active in cooler temperature. So mow early in the day.

* If you have ornamental or fruit plants in your garden, cover them with a close woven net. I prefer a cheese cloth. Use any cover that will let the sunshine in.

* Use a fly swatter to chase them away if they sit on your patio table or on your body.

* Always keep the net doors of your house closed to ensure that they don’t come inside.

* If your children are scared of them, tell them the wonderful life story of these insects and show them some pictures of these insects as they come out of their shell. Knowledge always helps fight fear.

* Have patience. They will leave by mid-July and not return for another 17 years.

This is my fighting plan. Hope it works.


National Geographic

Indiana University