University of Maryland Extension


adult periodical cicada adult cicada
Photo: Jon Yuschock,

Back to Common Problems - Trees and Shrubs

Back to Common Problems - Lawns
Publication: (PDF) HG 43 Cicadas

**May 2017: Periodical cicadas are emerging now in Maryland. These are believed to be an accelerated emergence of Brood X. If you see cicada adults, nymphs, and/or their shed skins on vegetation in your landscape, please report your sightings  to**

There are two cicadas common in the eastern United States: the dog day and the periodical (also known as the 17-year locusts). The dog day cicadas are up to 2 inches long and blackish with green markings. Their life cycle lasts 2-5 years, with some adults appearing every year. Periodical cicadas are 1-1 1/2 inches long, with reddish eyes, legs and wing veins. Their life cycle is 13 years in the South and 17 years in the North. All cicadas hold their wings "roof-like" over the body.

cicada damage to tree limbDamage to trees from cicadas results from the egg laying habits of the females. The female lays eggs in slits in the bark of twigs. The terminal portions of these twigs may die as a result. When the eggs hatch the nymphs (young cicadas) drop to the ground, enter the soil and feed on roots of plants. The nymphs remain in the soil for years until they mature. Before molting into an adult it emerges from the soil and climbs onto an object, such as the trunk of a tree, shrub, etc. The cast skins may often be seen in the garden. The adults then repeat the cycle. Adults of some species live 5 to 6 weeks.

cicada exit holesWhen large numbers of nymphs emerge from the soil, exit holes may be noticeable in the lawn. Several weeks before emergence, some nymphs construct mud chimneys over the emergence hole. These mounds may be 2-3 inches high and 1-2 inches wide with a hole approximately 1/2 inch wide in the center. The activity may be unsightly but does not permanently harm the turf.

Feeding by cicada adults and nymphs causes no damage to trees or shrubs. Prune out twigs damaged by egg laying females.

Management: Feeding by cicada adults and nymphs causes no damage to trees or shrubs. Prune out twigs damaged by egg laying females.

cicada emerging from soil cicada nymph

Cicada emerging from soil

Cicada nymph

cicada damage cicada damage close up

Cicada damage-flagging on maple

Cicada damage

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