How to Get Rid of Cicadas

Bill Swank
First Published: | Updated: February 27, 2024

Getting rid of cicadas typically involves deterring them from laying eggs in young trees, as outright elimination is not practical due to their vast numbers and underground life. Protective netting over trees, avoiding planting new trees before an expected emergence, and using foil or tree wrap can help protect young trees. Discover more about non-harmful strategies to manage cicadas and coexist with these periodic visitors.

  • Use natural repellents like garlic spray, essential oils, and vinegar solutions to deter cicadas without harming the environment or non-target species.
  • Implement physical barriers such as netting and tree wrapping to protect young trees and shrubs from cicada damage and prevent them from climbing and laying eggs.
  • Consider the ecological impact before using chemical solutions to kill cicadas, and focus on selective treatment to minimize disruption to biodiversity.
  • Maintain the health of your trees and plan landscaping activities to provide long-term protection against future cicada emergences, including manual removal and treatment of emergence holes.
  • Understand that cicada infestations are cyclical and temporary, with adult cicadas living only for about 4 to 6 weeks after emergence before the cycle starts anew.

How to Get Rid of Cicadas Naturally

Cicadas are fascinating insects known for their loud mating calls and periodic emergences. However, they can become a nuisance, especially during their mass emergences. Fortunately, there are natural methods to control and repel these insects without harming the environment.

Home Remedies and Natural Repellents

Natural repellents are safe for both the environment and non-target species. Here are some effective home remedies:

  • Garlic Spray: Garlic has a strong scent that is unappealing to many insects, including cicadas. To make a garlic spray, crush several cloves of garlic and mix with water. Let it steep for a few hours before straining and spraying around the affected areas.
  • Essential Oils: Certain essential oils, such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and cedarwood, can deter cicadas. Mix a few drops with water and spray around your garden.
  • Vinegar Solution: A diluted vinegar solution can act as a repellent when sprayed on plants. However, be cautious as vinegar can harm delicate plants.

Utilizing Natural Predators

Cicadas have many natural predators that help maintain their populations:

  • Birds: Encourage birds into your garden by installing bird feeders and baths. Birds are natural predators of cicadas and can help keep their numbers in check.
  • Beneficial Insects: Ladybugs and praying mantises feed on cicada nymphs. Attract these beneficial insects by planting a diverse garden with plenty of nectar-rich flowers.

Eco-Friendly Methods

Maintaining a balanced ecosystem is key for natural pest control:

  • Companion Planting: Some plants can repel cicadas or attract their predators. Consider planting marigolds, chrysanthemums, or other companion plants in your garden.
  • Soil Health: Healthy soil supports a diverse ecosystem, which can naturally control pest populations. Use compost and avoid pesticides that can harm beneficial organisms in the soil.

How to Keep Cicadas Away

Preventing cicadas from becoming a problem in the first place is often easier than dealing with an infestation.

Habitat Alterations

Making your garden less attractive to cicadas can prevent them from settling:

  • Keep Grass Short: Cicadas prefer to lay eggs in taller vegetation. Regularly mowing your lawn can make it less appealing.
  • Reduce Moisture: Cicadas are attracted to moisture. Ensure proper drainage in your garden to avoid standing water.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers can effectively prevent cicadas from causing damage:

  • Netting: Protect young trees and shrubs with fine netting that prevents cicadas from accessing the plants to lay eggs.
  • Tree Wrapping: Wrap tree trunks with a barrier like burlap to prevent cicadas from climbing and laying eggs in the branches.

What Attracts Cicadas?

Understanding what draws cicadas to an area is crucial for controlling them.

Cicada Lifecycle and Environment Attraction

The lifecycle of cicadas determines their attraction to certain environments:

  • Periodical Emergences: Cicadas emerge in large numbers after spending years underground. They are attracted to areas with mature trees where they can feed and lay eggs.
  • Warm Soil: Cicadas are more active when the soil is warm, which is why they often emerge in late spring or early summer.

Sealing Entry Points

Prevent cicadas from intruding by:

  • Caulking Cracks: Seal cracks and crevices in your home’s exterior to prevent cicadas from entering.
  • Protecting Trees: Use mesh or netting to cover any openings in trees where cicadas could lay eggs.

What Kills Cicadas?

While some may look for ways to coexist with cicadas or deter them gently, others might seek more permanent solutions to eliminate them. It’s important to consider the impact of any method used to kill cicadas.

Natural Solutions

There are natural methods that can lead to cicada mortality without resorting to harsh chemicals:

  • Diatomaceous Earth: Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around the base of plants. This natural substance can dehydrate and kill cicada nymphs as they emerge from the ground.
  • Nematodes: Beneficial nematodes can be applied to the soil. These microscopic worms attack and kill cicada nymphs without harming plants or beneficial insects.

Chemical Control

Chemical solutions should be used responsibly and as a last resort:

  • Insecticides: If you choose to use insecticides, select ones that are specifically labeled for cicadas. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consider the impact on beneficial insects and the environment.
  • Safety Measures: When applying chemical treatments, wear protective clothing and avoid spraying on windy days to prevent drift to non-target areas.

Ecological Consideration

Before using any method that kills cicadas, consider the following:

  • Biodiversity: Cicadas play a role in the ecosystem, serving as food for wildlife and aerating the soil.
  • Selective Treatment: Focus on protecting high-value plants or specific areas rather than widespread treatment, to minimize ecological disruption.

How to Stop Cicadas Climbing Trees

Protecting trees from cicadas is essential, especially for young or ornamental trees that can be significantly damaged by cicada activity.

Tactical Advice

Here are some tactics to keep cicadas off your trees:

  • Tree Bands: Wrap sticky bands around the trunks of trees. These bands trap cicadas as they climb, preventing them from reaching the branches to lay eggs.
  • Manual Removal: Regularly inspect your trees and manually remove any cicadas you find.

Long-Term Protection Strategies

To protect against future cicada emergences:

  • Tree Health: Maintain the overall health of your trees with proper pruning, watering, and fertilizing. Healthy trees are more resilient to cicada damage.
  • Planning: If you know your area is prone to cicada emergences, consider timing tree plantings and maintenance to avoid the peak cicada season.

Treatment of Emergence Holes

After cicadas have emerged:

  • Soil Tilling: Lightly till the soil around the base of trees to disrupt the nymphs’ ability to burrow and emerge.
  • Water Management: Proper watering can help the soil recover from the aeration caused by cicada emergence holes.

When Do Cicadas Go Away?

Cicadas are not a permanent fixture in your garden. Their presence is cyclical and temporary.

Periodical Cicada Life Cycles

Cicadas have different life cycles:

  • Annual Cicadas: These cicadas appear every year, usually in late summer.
  • Periodical Cicadas: These are the ones known for their 13- or 17-year life cycles, emerging in massive numbers.

Natural End to Activity Periods

Cicada infestations have a natural conclusion:

  • Adult Lifespan: After emerging, adult cicadas typically live for about 4 to 6 weeks. After they mate and lay eggs, they die, and the cycle begins anew.
  • Managing Expectations: Understanding that cicada emergences are temporary can help you manage the situation more calmly and effectively.

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