Protect young trees and prepare for the “continuous roar” when Brood X cicadas appear

ANN ARBOR – Periodic Breed X cicadas have reappeared in areas of southeast Michigan for the first time in nearly two decades.

The insects, which have been developing underground for 17 years, crawl out of the ground in May and June, feeding on plants and trees and laying eggs in branches. Cicadas are harmless to humans and do not bite, but they can harm shrubs and young trees.

According to the city of Ann Arbor, those concerned about small or endangered trees should cover them with netting or mesh to keep the cicadas off. The city also said that insecticides should not be used against the beetles.

University of Michigan entomologist Thomas Moore said that despite cosmetic damage, the insects can be good for forests, which sometimes experience growth spurts the year after emergence.

Moore, professor emeritus at the Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Zoological Museum, said the holes created by the appearance of cicadas allow air, sunlight, water and other nutrients to penetrate the soil faster. He added that the presence of the beetles is an indicator that a forest is robust.


Tom O’Dell specializes in natural areas and collections at UM’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. He was in Ann Arbor in May 2004, the last time the 17 year old cicadas showed up, and has some advice for homeowners concerned about possible damage to their gardens and yards.

The university posted these questions and answers with O’Dell:

How was it in the UM Botanical Garden when the Brood X cicadas last appeared?



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