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Coping with Cicadas

Get ready, Bettendorf, for a summer like no other! Cicada Brood 13 will soon be invading our beloved Iowan gardens and landscapes once again, meaning there's no better time to learn how to control cicadas than right now! 

What is Cicada Brood 13?

Brood 13 is a group of periodical cicadas that will emerge in late spring when ground temperatures reach around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, with unique characteristics and emergence patterns that make them a particularly challenging adversary for gardeners across the state.

Here's the buzz:

  • Brood 13 operates on a synchronized 17-year lifecycle, meaning that cicadas emerge en masse every 17 years.
  • They're primarily found in the eastern United States, including parts of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
  • Known as Magicicada tredecassini, Brood 13 cicadas emerge in massive numbers to mate and lay eggs, creating a buzzing spectacle that can be both awe-inspiring and disruptive.
  • Their emergence can significantly impact local ecosystems, as cicadas can quickly decimate large swathes of native trees, shrubs, and other plant life. However, it’s not all doom and gloom; cicadas also provide many local wildlife species with a much-needed additional food source! 

While all this noise is going on across the Southwestern part of Iowa, other states will be seeing the emergence of a second brood—brood 19—in a rare double emergence. While some parts of Iowa could see both broods, it's far more likely that we will only see brood 13 take up residence here this summer.  


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Areas of Iowa Expected to See the Emergence

Curious about where Brood 13 will make its presence known in Iowa? Here's a brief overview of the regions expected to experience the brunt of the cicada emergence this summer: 

  • Brood 13 is expected to emerge in several areas across Iowa, primarily in the eastern part of the state.
  • Counties in eastern Iowa, including Scott, Clinton, Jackson, and Dubuque, are among those expected to bear the brunt of the cicada invasion.
  • Specific locations with suitable cicada habitats—such as wooded areas and parks—will likely experience higher concentrations within these counties.

For a more detailed overview, check out this emergence map to help you better plan your cicada infestation control efforts.

The Difference Between Annual and Periodical Cicadas

Understanding the difference between annual and periodical cicadas can help shed light on Brood 13's unique nature and its impact on your garden. Here are a few key differences to be aware of:

  • As the name suggests, annual cicadas emerge every year and are typically found in smaller numbers. They belong to a different genus of cicada and are not synchronized in their lifecycle.
  • On the other hand, periodical cicadas emerge in massive numbers at predictable intervals, such as every 13 or 17 years. They belong to the genus Magicicada and have a synchronized lifecycle that allows them to emerge en masse for mating and egg-laying.
  • The long, synchronized lifecycle of periodical cicadas is believed to be an adaptation to avoid predators and maximize mating success. By emerging in such large numbers, they overwhelm predators and ensure the survival of their species.
  • Brood 13 is a prime example of a periodical cicada emergence, with its 17-year lifecycle and synchronized mass emergence in specific geographic regions.
  • Unlike annual cicadas, which may cause localized damage to plants, periodical cicadas can have a more significant impact due to their sheer numbers and synchronized emergence, but this is not common.
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Are Cicadas Harmful to Humans or Pets?

While you're busy planning how to control the cicadas in your Iowa landscape, you might also be wondering whether you should be worried about any risks they may pose to humans and pets. Here's a rundown of what to expect:

  • Cicadas are generally harmless to humans and pets. Their primary purpose during their brief adult stage is to mate and lay eggs, after which they die off.
  • While cicadas can be noisy and may startle pets or disrupt outdoor activities with their buzzing, they do not pose a direct threat to human health.
  • In rare cases, cicadas may accidentally fly into people or pets, but their bite is not venomous, and they do not sting like bees or wasps.
  • It's essential to keep an eye on curious pets who may try to eat cicadas, as ingesting large quantities could potentially cause upset stomachs. However, for most pets, cicadas are simply a temporary curiosity.


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Garden Protection from Cicadas

During their brief adult stage, Cicadas primarily feed on fluids from plant stems, using their piercing-sucking mouthparts to extract sap from trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. While adult cicadas do not cause significant damage through feeding, they can lay eggs in the branches of trees and shrubs, leading to wilting and dieback in affected plants. 

Rest assured that this incredible event isn't going to ruin your garden. However, gardeners should still watch for signs of cicada activity—including buzzing sounds, discarded exoskeletons, and wilting foliage—and take proactive measures to protect their vulnerable plants. Here are some effective strategies to protect your garden from Brood 13's potential damage:

  • Keep an eye out for emerging cicadas in your neighborhood and landscape, particularly in areas with mature trees and shrubs, where they prefer to lay their eggs.
  • Cover vulnerable plants with fine mesh netting to create a physical barrier that prevents cicadas from accessing them.


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  • Apply plant and environment-friendly insecticides to the areas of your garden where cicadas are most likely to lay their eggs.
  • Implement a diversionary planting scheme by introducing sacrificial plants that cicadas prefer, diverting them away from your more valuable specimens.
  • Foster biodiversity in your garden to attract natural cicada predators, such as birds and squirrels, which can help keep populations in check.

Knowing how to control cicadas and fend off Brood 13 is easy with the right insights and preparation. However, don't let your fear stop you from enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a rare double emergence that won't be seen again for 200 years! For more expert advice, come see us at Wallace's Garden Center today to find out how we're preparing for the buzzing summer ahead! 



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