Things are about to get loud: the 17-year cicadas are coming back to Ohio this summer!
The more southern parts of Ohio—including Dayton, Cincinnati, and Columbus—are likely to see billions of cicadas. (That’s right: we said “billions!”)
What do you need to know about cicadas? Keep reading to find out—before the buzzing swarm descends!
Cicadas: What, Why, and How
The cicadas emerging soon in Ohio are a type of periodical cicadas. The life cycle of periodical cicadas is extremely synchronized, meaning they all go through their life cycles at the same time. Like clockwork, every 17 years, they emerge from the soil (where they spend their nymph stage) to become adults. After emerging, they shed their skin, find a mate, and lay their eggs. Soon after—just a few short weeks—they die off.
The cicadas you’ll see will be 2-3 inches long and black, with red eyes and clear wings that have yellow-orange veins.
Why are there so many cicadas? Essentially, it’s a survival strategy for the species as a group. When they emerge from the soil, these cicadas have to molt. This process takes a few hours, and in that time, they are easy prey. Even after molting, cicadas are large and are poor flyers. Birds, squirrels, bats, wasps, spiders, ants, turtles, and even fish feast on them. There are so many cicadas that eventually, the predators eat their fill and can’t eat anymore. As a result, most of the cicadas in the group survive. Crazy, right?
The buzzing sound you hear during cicada season is how male cicadas search for a mate. After mating happens, the females lay their eggs in the twigs of trees and shrubs. Around six to ten weeks later, the cicada eggs hatch and make their way underground. And so, the cycle will begin again, until the adults emerge another 17 years from now.
Where You’ll Find Cicadas in Ohio
“Brood X,” as this group is known, is one of the biggest and most widely distributed popu-lations of periodical cicadas. These cicadas will surface in locations stretching from Georgia to New York, from the east coast to the Mississippi River.
Experts expect that, in Ohio, the largest concentrations of cicadas will happen in a few counties: Hamilton, Montgomery, Greene, Franklin, Defiance, and Logan. If you live in any of these counties, expect to see lots of cicadas!
Should You Be Worried about Cicadas?
Swarms of bugs are almost never a good thing. (In fact, it usually brings to mind plagues and destruction!)
Cicadas are quite loud due to sheer numbers. When they are concentrated in a small ar-ea, their buzzing can reach 100 decibels! (That’s about as loud as a motorcycle or lawn mower.)
The sound and presence of so many cicadas can be alarming; however, the good news is that the cicadas in Ohio are more of a nuisance than a real threat. They don’t bite or sting, and they don’t decimate crops (unlike locusts, for example).
What’s more, cicadas can in some ways be a good thing. Cicadas are an important part of the food chain and ecosystem. They provide food for other insects and animals. Also, even the cicadas that don’t get eaten will provide a benefit, by decomposing into the soil and providing nourishment for all sorts of plants.
In short, no: you don’t need to be overly worried about cicadas. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for cicada season! Let’s talk about what you should do now.
How to Prepare for Cicadas in Ohio
While cicadas are mostly harmless, there are a few things to watch out for, come cicada season in Ohio. These include guarding the young trees in your yard, protecting your pets, and monitoring for increased pest activity.
#1 Guard Your Plants
Cicadas drink the sap of tree roots and branches, and they lay their eggs in the thin twigs and branches of trees and shrubs. Mature trees can handle this, but young trees that aren’t fully established can be damaged this way. To prevent cicadas from laying their eggs in recently planted or valuable trees and shrubs, cover the plants with netting, cheesecloth, or a similar mesh material. If you see a damaged branch in your tree, remove it immediately.
#2 Protect Your Pets
While dogs in particular may take interest in cicadas (as well as eating them), this is generally harmless to them. Eating cicadas in large quantities could potentially make some pets sick. To prevent cats and dogs from eating large quantities of cicadas, it’s a good idea to supervise them while outdoors and keep them inside where possible. (Fortunately, cicada season is short!)
#3 Monitor for Pests
As we mentioned above, cicadas offer a feast for all sorts of predators. Unfortunately, what that can mean for homeowners is a future pest problem.
What do we mean? Wasps (including the cicada killer, which looks like a very large yellow jacket), spiders, ants, and other pests may come out in full force during and after Ohio’s cicada season. If your backyard is a haven for cicadas, you might see these pests descend on your home! You certainly don’t want these pests to stick around.
During and after cicada season this summer, it’s a good idea to monitor your home for increased pest activity. Are any pests setting up camp in your home or backyard? Now is the time to nip the problem in the bud!
We’ve Got Pest Control Covered
If you have a pest problem, we’ve got you covered!
ScherZinger Pest Control is a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton and Columbus. We’ve been pioneers who have engineered new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website or Facebook.