Protecting Plants from Cicadas: How to Keep Your Garden Safe from Cicada Damage

Cicada belongs to a superfamily of insects collectively known as the Cicadoidea. Cicada has over three thousand known species, with others yet to be discovered and classified. It is always identified with very short antennae, wide bulging pair of eyes set far apart, and an oversized membranous wing that spreads over the abdomen. It is mainly found in the tropics and temperate regions of the world. 


There are periodical cicadas, also known as Magicicada – a novelty species of insect mainly found in North America. Unlike other species, Magicicada is mostly found as nymphs living underground in burrows. They don’t exist all year round.

Instead, they appear periodically between thirteen and fifteen years. The periodic nature of Magicicada is seen as an adaptive measure to escape predatory attempts of other animals such as cicada killers, owls, woodpeckers, herons, and falcons. 

There are annual cicadas found each year. Different species of cicada within the annual cicada category appear regularly each year. It is not synchronized as the insect tries to beat predators. Annual cicadas spend their early years as underground nymphs like Magicicada, but their lifespan varies, ranging from one to nine years.

Cicada Life Cycle

After spending the early periods of their metamorphosis as underground nymphs, cicadas reach full maturity between 7-8 months with a lifespan of two to five years, depending on the species.

Fully matured cicadas with well-developed wings migrate off their burrows to dwell and feed on trees and plants. Maple, willow, ash, cypress, oak, and other tree plants are cicadas’ food sources.

The Effects of Cicadas on Plants

Protect Plants From Cicada

There are differing opinions on the effects and impacts of Cicada on plants. Much of the argument is on the intensity of the result, not the effect itself. Matured Cicadas live and feed on plants. Female cicadas create small slits on the bark of the trees or plants and lay their eggs on them. 

Cicadas are classified as plant pests, although their effects on plants are minor. Experts have confirmed that cicadas damage plants, especially unhealthy and already wilting plants. However, if your plant is healthy and blossoming, the impact of cicadas may remain entirely inconsequential.

7 Ways to Protect Your Plants From Cicadas

Unlike other plant-friendly insects, Cicadas are plant pests and can decrease yield, hamper growth, inflict damage and even cause the death of struggling plants. Continue reading as we take you through steps on how to scare off cicadas from your plants.

Use Barriers And Wraps.

This is one of the effective methods to protect your plants from cicadas. Set up a barrier protecting the branches of your plants from being used by cicadas to lay eggs. Cicadas make short-inch slits in the branches to lay eggs if you don’t cover them. This affects the health of the plant. Wrap up the plants with nets. Plant bags or insect nets can also be used to protect individual plants.

Timely Planting

There are periodical and annual cicadas that appear once in a while at particular times. Even after their appearance, cicadas spend some time in the burrows during the early stages of metamorphosis. They only migrate to settle on plants after full maturity.

Having first-hand knowledge of cicada life cycles and the periods of appearance of the two types can help you plan for the best period to grow your plants. A timely plan is a valuable safeguard against cicadas.

Grow Plants That Repel Cicadias

A lot of plants can repel pests, such as cicadas. Growing pest-repellent plants is another way of protecting your plants from Cicadas. It reduces the routine of regular inspection or application of pesticides.

Examples of plants that repel cicadas include; parsley, basil, wormwood, mint, neem, and a host of others. Use cicada-repelling plants if you must grow your plants in cicada seasons.

Monitor And Handpick Cicadas

Cicadas are not difficult to pick off your plant when spotted. They may be laying eggs or trying to feed on the plant. Cover your hand with hand gloves, and handpick them from the plant.

If you want to handpick cicadas when spotted, you must maintain constant monitoring of the plant, especially during periods with high cicada presence. Hand picking may be tedious when your plant faces a deluge of cicadas.

Spray Cicada Off With Water

You can use water from a hose to spray off cicada as if you were watering the plant. Connect your hose to a water tap and switch it on. Place your two fingers on the mount of the hose. This widens the spread of the water forcefully gurgling off the pipe. Point it on your cicada-covered plant.

The force of the water will knock off cicadas from the plant. This method is always suitable in summer as it serves dual functions – watering the plant and locking off cicadas. 

Prune Off Cicada-infested Leaves And Branches

Pruning is another useful method to tackle cicada-infested plants. However, this must be handled with utmost care not to damage the plant. After spotting cicada eggs in some trees, branches, or leaves of your plant, you can take off that part to prevent the egg from reaching maturity.

If left untouched, the branches harbor nymphs which later grow into adult cicadas damaging your plant. Punning is more useful when you can not hand-pick or spray cicada with hose water. When pruning, beware of crop loss. Taking off too many branches infested with cicadas can also affect the plants’ growth.

Use Cicada Insecticides

There are customized insecticidal chemicals that you can use on plants infested with cicadas. Cicada insecticides can go farther than hand-picking, hose watering, or pruning. Carbaryl-based insecticides are always recommended even when the plant is heavily infested with cicadas.

Dilute the insecticide in water. A maximum of three ounces should be used per gallon of water. Spray it on the plant at least once weekly to drag off cicadas. 

How Can You Get Rid Of Cicadas Without Chemicals?

You can get rid of cicadas without using chemicals by handpicking cicadas from infested plants. Nets, wraps, and garden hoses are other non-chemical methods that protect your plants against cicadas.

What Are Cicadas Favourite Tree?

There are cicadas’ favorite trees which readily attract and host cicadas. Apple, magnolia, cherry, oak, hickory and maple are examples fo cicada favorite plants.

How Severe Is Cicadas Damage To Plant?

Cicadas are categorised as a low-risk plant pests. They only cause minor damage to plants while feeding on them. When heavily infested on their host, they can cause more damage.

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