Cicadas – those large, noisy bugs that sing all night long – have been found in literature since at least the time of Homer’s Iliad. They’ve been part of ancient folklore and music for centuries; in China, they symbolize rebirth and immortality.
How to Get Rid of Cicadas
All of this is fine and good, until cicada season hits and you’re kept up all night by the cicadas’ song, you find you are walking around in fear that you will be hit by a cicada falling out of a tree or when you have to circle the house to remove the exoskeletons which are stuck on your home’s exterior.
What are cicadas?
You probably know what a cicada is, even if you don’t know its name. Cicadas are large, winged bugs, with large eyes, short antennae and large wings. You will find cicadas on almost every continent, but most are found in hotter climates. You can tell cicadas apart from other large flying bugs because of the song of the male when mating. Unlike crickets, which make their sound by rubbing their back legs together, the song of the cicadas comes from a tymbal, located on each side of the male’s abdomen. As the tymbal is drawn in, the cicada makes a clicking noise that resonates against the hollow abdomen, causing the sound to be louder than other noise-making insects.
During the heat of the summer, you can’t avoid the sound of the cicadas in the trees, especially in the hotter climates of the American Southwest. You will also see the cicadas, as these large insects can be found on driveways, sidewalks and on the ground in tree-covered areas.
What happens during cicada season?
To protect against predators, cicadas take a long time to hatch – as many as 17 years, in some cases. This long hatch time means any predators who have found a cicada nest will have died out or moved on by the time the current set of eggs hatches. Eggs are placed in trees, just under the bark, so when the cicadas hatch, they have a tendency to fall out of the trees and onto the ground below.
The biggest problem with cicadas is the noise. Cicada experts have measured the noise from a brood of cicadas to as much as 100 decibels; that’s more noise than your car stereo turned up to its loudest volume. The noise is so loud, the female cicada can hear the mating call as far as a mile away.
Because cicadas only hatch every 17 years or so, they do so in large numbers – several million – with all the males sending out their mating call to all the females. It’s no wonder the sound is deafening. And it’s no wonder you would want to make sure your yard is not inundated with cicadas.
Can I get rid of these noisy pests?
There really is no good way of totally getting rid of cicadas, especially if you have neighbors who are not doing anything to stem the swarm themselves. The best advice is to keep your trees and shrubbery well-trimmed on a regular basis; it will do away with the eggs and keep the insects from hatching. Here are some other tips for dealing with cicada season:
- Use mowers and other power equipment at dawn or dusk. Cicadas are less active at dawn and dusk. Because their “song” is based on vibrations of the tymbals, females can easily mistake the vibrations from power equipment for the love song of the male cicada, bringing them into your yard by the hundreds.
- Watch your pets. Cicadas hatch, mate, then die. This means that you can have a large number of cicadas, making a racket, then find them dead all over your patio. Since pets are curious about almost everything that lands on the ground, be careful your pets are not eating the dead cicadas. While a few will not harm them, ingesting large quantities of these bugs can make them ill.
- Dispose of carcasses promptly. As we’ve already mentioned, when the swarm hatches, mates and dies, you may find you many cicada carcasses on your property. Remember that if you don’t dispose of them properly, they will smell and potentially bring other pests to feed on them. The best way to dispose of the carcasses is to put them into your trash.
Call a Professional
Cicadas are a fact of life, especially in the Southwest. They may be noisy, but they can also be considered “white” noise, as long as it isn’t in your backyard. If you need help with backyard bugs, contact the professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services; we are experts at ridding your property of bothersome pests.