Maryland Officially Welcomes the 17-Year Cicadas
MDA, DNR Offer Practical Advice to Help People Prepare and Enjoy
ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 12, 2004) - After being underground for 17 years, the Brood X (ten) periodical cicadas have arrived. Under the shrill sounds of cicada mating "songs," the State of Maryland hosted an official "Welcome the Cicadas" event today at the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) headquarters in Annapolis.
On behalf of Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley and Natural Resources Secretary C. Ronald Franks, Agriculture Deputy Secretary John R. Brooks, DVM, entomologists and cicada experts gave demonstrations and shared practical advice to help Marylanders better understand and prepare for the noisy cicada emergence.
"The emergence of the periodical cicada is an extraordinary occurrence and I encourage Marylanders know what to expect so they can experience this event as a wonder and not a calamity," said Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley. "There is no need to panic. Cicadas are not locusts. They do not bite, sting, chew or otherwise harm people, animals, and most plant material. While their sheer numbers in some areas may become an aggravation, Brood X only emerges once every 17 years so do what you can to enjoy the experience. In six short weeks it will all be over."
Secretary Franks, while demonstrating the fine art of cicada fly-tying, said "If you can't seem to find any cicadas in your neighborhood or you need an escape, it's a perfect time to visit Maryland's state forests and parks. We have a number of parks within and outside the cicadas' emergence range."
As the soil temperatures reach the requisite 64 degrees, cicadas are emerging from the ground. Populations will vary from none on most of the lower Eastern Shore (except Cecil County and a pocket in the Talbot County area),Southern Maryland, and Garrett County to as many as 1.5 million per acre in the densest areas of Central Maryland until the end of June.
Cicadas depend on the environment for their existence. Soil disruption for development will eliminate populations, while undisturbed wooded land lends itself to the cicada. Scientists are asking people to serve as spotters to track their emergence timing and locations. The red eyes and orange wings of periodical cicadas distinguish them from all other cicadas. Marylanders can enter their periodical cicada encounters at: www.cicadas.info or through www.mda.state.md.us.
Steps to Prepare and Handle the Emergence of Periodical Cicadas:
For more information and photos, go to: http://www.mda.state.md.us/press/cicadas.htm
- Vehicles: remove squished cicadas from vehicles to prevent damage to paint finishes.
- Pools - Before opening pools, wait until the cicadas emerge to see how many will be in the area. If heavily populated with cicadas, consider delaying the opening of pools until the end of June or early July after the cicadas are gone. Otherwise, be sure to clean pools and pool filters often to remove dead cicadas.
- HVAC - Inspect frequently to keep filters clear in heavily populated areas.
- Yards - Dead cicadas and brown cicada sheds can be gathered and composted like leaves or left to break down naturally.
- Pesticides - Pesticides have not been found to be an effective means to control cicadas and pets may eat poisoned carcasses. Homeowners are advised to allow cicadas to go through their normal life cycle.
- Fish ponds: Cover with screens or finely woven netting to prevent cicadas from accumulating.
- Pets: Limit your pet's consumption of large numbers of cicadas to prevent gastrointestinal problems.
- Landscaping: Reduce damage to smaller trees by pruning them lightly or not at all the season before emergence. Damaged twigs may be pruned out at the end of August. Small shade and ornamental trees can be protected by covering them with cheesecloth or finely woven netting to prevent females from laying eggs in the twigs. In heavily infested areas, commercial growers should be prepared to delay planting new deciduous trees and shrubs until the fall or spring following cicada emergence.
- Event Planning: Research the neighborhoods or places where graduations, weddings, family reunions or other outdoor events will occur to learn if there was a large cicada emergence in 1987. (Old newspapers and long-time residents are good starting points.) If events are to be in locations with large cicada populations, consider other options or use tents with screened sides.
Posted May 13, 2004