St Louis Pest Control Blog

St. Louis Cicadas – Let the Call of Love Begin

The St. Louis 13 year periodical cicadas have started to emerge from their long underground hideaway.  For the past 13 years, these particular cicadas have been living within the root system of every tree system and have now wiggled their way out to molt into an adult.  Let’s take a look back when these cicadas first emerged from their eggs.  The year was 1998 and this year was unique as we had two different set of periodical cicadas emerge at the same time.

Back then, after the cicadas emerged from their eggs they dropped to the ground and burrowed their way down to the root system.  And for the last 13 years they have been feeding upon the sap that they sucked from tree roots.  During this time they had molted many times getting themselves prepared for their final molt and transformation.  Once the cicada is ready to emerge they sometimes create mud tubes above ground just before they are ready to molt, though other times you may find a small finger sized width hole in the soil.

After the cicada has finally left the soil it will climb up a fence post, tree or whatever it can for it’s final molt.  Once the cicadas emerge from their final molt they have one purpose and one purpose only, to mate. The males sing their heart out in order to attract a female to mate with.  After mating has occurred, the female cicada will start laying eggs in small tree branches.  She will tear open the bark in a straight line and deposit the eggs in these gaps.  If the twig is small enough this may cause the leaves to wilt and die.  The eggs themselves will remain there for the next 5-7 weeks until they hatch and fall to the ground to start the whole cycle over again.

Cicadas can be harmful to trees, especially young trees.  So what can one do to help prevent damage?  There are actually several things that can be done.  One, if the tree is small and delicate, you can cover it with a mosquito netting or cheese cloth to prevent the female from laying eggs into the branches.  Now, this might  be practical for some smaller trees but trying to cover a big oak will be virtually impossible.  So for your bigger trees you will need to apply a pesticide directly onto the tree branches that don’t exceed 1″ in diameter for the best results.

The problems you are going to have with this type of treatment is getting the materials to all those branches way up high.  There is where you are going to need to hire a professional company to blow a pesticide upwards into the tree branches and leaves to help control the cicadas.  At Blue Chip Pest Services we have a service that will help control the cicadas as well knocking down the mosquito population in your yard at the same time.  The best advise I can give you is to treat your trees early.  If you wait until the first sign of leaves turning brown,then you may have waited to long and the damage will irreversible.

Oh yeah, did I meantion Cicada Killers?….we will save that for next week.

Please call us if you have any questions or concerns regarding these pests at 636-343-7900 or go to for more information regarding our service options.


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