Brood 19 cicadas expected to linger for few more weeks

Damage to trees will become apparent
Friday, June 17, 2011 | 4:12 p.m. CDT; updated 12:16 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 24, 2011

COLUMBIA — The city has been a little quieter lately, but don’t let it fool you.

The periodical cicadas are still going to be around for a while, MU entomology professor Bruce Barrett said.

“They’re not as loud as they used to be because for the last few days we’ve had colder temperatures,” Barrett said. “As the temperatures warm up, they will start being active again.”

That could happen as soon as this weekend, when temperatures are expected to climb back into the 90s. The National Weather Service on Friday was predicting that the warmer weather would continue until another cold front comes through on Tuesday.

“I think we’re going to have cicadas around for the next two or three weeks,” Barrett said. “Maybe not the numbers we had two or three weeks ago, but we’ll still have plenty around.”

Most of the dead cicadas on the ground now are males and females that already have mated. The females can lay 400 to 600 eggs before dying.

“The ones in the trees either haven’t mated yet or are still laying their eggs," Barrett said. "Those will die in the next couple of weeks.”

Rob Lawrence, a forest entomologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, also believes the periodical cicadas have some time left.

“I think we are getting near the end of their activity,” Lawrence said. "They are declining in numbers, but they’ll be around for a little bit of time still.”

Lawrence said the impact of the cicadas on trees is his focus now. The females can damage trees when they cut slits in the branches and lay eggs in them.

“The flagging on the branches is going to become really apparent. People are going to see a lot of brown leaves," Lawrence said. "We'll probably be seeing more of that in the next few weeks."

Large, healthy trees can tolerate the damage well, but younger trees may have a harder time. The best time to do corrective pruning on trees is when they've entered dormancy or in the late winter months, Lawrence said.

“For the most part it’s not something to worry about," he said. "It’s going to look worse than it really is."

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