Do Cicadas Damage Trees?

Cicadas have long been synonymous with early summer. Once soil temperatures reach 64 degrees, these unique insects emerge from their underground slumber, marking their arrival with their telltale mating sounds. And while cicada swarms can indeed be piercing, they’re short-lived: just several weeks later, the insects die, leaving a mess of shells in their wake.

This year marks a special occasion for cicadas: both Brood XIX, which emerges every 13 years, and Brood XIII, which appear every 17 years, will come out together. It’s the first time since 1803 that these specific broods will co-emerge — so what can we expect from such a significant event?

Is There Potential for Cicada Tree Damage?

While they can certainly be a nuisance in other ways, cicadas are unlikely to cause any lasting damage to your trees. Aside from the boisterous buzzing, the main headache they’ll bring is a flurry of carcasses. After emergence, these hibernating insects take to the trees to lay eggs in late spring or early summer, but most established plants can withstand the added weight. Minor physical damage known as “flagging” may occur in small or weak branches, which can interfere with water delivery to the tips of the affected branches. In most cases, though, this is only a concern for newly planted trees and shrubs.

The good news is that the overlap of these two emerging broods is unlikely to cause much of a stir here in Georgia. You’ll probably only notice the same signs of cicadas you do each year, as the biggest overlap of the two broods will mostly be concentrated in the Midwest. (Sending our best to central Illinois!)

How to Protect Vulnerable Plants from Cicada Damage

Although cicada tree damage isn’t a concern for established plants, you may want to treat your fresh plants with some TLC before cicada season. Fertilizing your soil and watering young plants are smart, proactive ways to promote resilience, regardless of impending cicada visits. And, to make sure saplings get all the nutrients they need, spread a three-inch layer of mulch around their base. This will keep pesky weeds out and lock moisture into the soil.

What To Do with Cicada Shells on Trees

Like any dead insects on your property, you could simply leave cicada shells on trees if they aren’t bothering you. But many people find their pungent odor to be off-putting, and their visible presence isn’t exactly a comforting sight, either.

If scattered cicada carcasses aren’t in line with your landscape vision for this season, you could collect and discard them once you notice an accumulation. But for a better, more sustainable approach, consider using their shells to nourish your garden. Their exoskeletons are rich in potassium and nitrogen – nutrients that can give your soil a healthy boost. Mix them into your compost bin, and throw in some newspaper or sawdust to cut the odor.

Schedule Your Service With Premier Tree Solutions

Keep your trees healthy long after cicada season with our professional tree care services. From pruning to stump removal, we can help keep your property attractive and safe year-round. Request an appointment with our specialists by sending us a message online or by calling (404) 252-6448.

Pollen-Resistant Trees for Pollen Allergy Management

Achoo! Springtime is here, bringing beautiful blooms and fresh leaf canopies. But while seeing green can be an instant mood booster, the season can also send your sinuses into a tailspin. The likely culprit? Pollen.

If you’re among the lucky 24 million people in the U.S. with seasonal allergic rhinitis, pollen can trigger all kinds of fun symptoms, from sneezing to itchy eyes, congestion, and post-nasal drip. Although it may be impossible to avoid the allergen altogether, there are ways to reduce your exposure.

Tree Pollen: The Leading Cause of Springtime Allergies

Know that notorious yellow film lining the hood of your car during springtime? Yes, that’s the pollen we’re talking about. But to understand its role in tree health — and how it affects our own — let’s circle back to science class for a moment. This powdery collection of microspores is the substance seed plants use to reproduce. When caught in the wind or carried by insects, pollen makes its way to other plants to generate seeds (and apparently, gets everywhere else in the process).

Pollen comes from several sources: trees, grass, and weeds. Tree pollen is the first to arrive each year; in some states, it appears as early as December or January. Then, grass pollen takes over in the spring and early summer, followed by weed pollen later in the year. (No, you’re not imagining your year-round allergy symptoms.)

If you notice a spike in symptoms during the spring, however, your trees are likely to blame. Birch, elm, cedar, oak, pine, poplar, and walnut are among the most notorious offenders. Of course, these species are beautiful and beneficial in their own ways, so removing them because of a pollen allergy is probably a permanent solution to a temporary problem. In just a few weeks, it will be grass triggering your allergies instead! What you can do, however, is select low-pollen trees for your property moving forward.

What Are the Best Trees for Allergies?

Back to our science lesson: most trees produce seeds only when the pollen produced from male flowers reaches female flowers. But some species are dioecious, meaning they have only all-male or all-female flowers. Since the female flowers won’t produce pollen, female varieties will essentially be hypoallergenic trees.

You might need to special-order them from a nursery, but non-pollen-producing female trees can be found within the following species:

  • Cedar
  • Juniper
  • Mulberry
  • White ash
  • Swamp tupelo
  • Aspen
  • Boxelder

While hypoallergenic trees may be an attractive option, they may not be the best fit for your property. Being pollen-free doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be low-maintenance, and you’ll also have to consider geographic factors like soil type and hardiness zone.

To expand your options, an alternative would be to consider a monoecious tree. These species have both male and female flowers, meaning the pollen doesn’t have to travel far to reach female flowers. The pollen is therefore thicker and heavier — and less likely to get picked up with a breeze.

Some examples of these low-pollen trees include:

  • Magnolia
  • Dogwood
  • Spruce
  • Fir
  • Ornamental pear tree
  • Fir
  • Crabapple
  • Flowering cherry and plum
  • Eastern redbud

Need A Pollen-Heavy Tree Maintained? Call Premier Tree Solutions

Allergy symptoms are just one problem your trees can cause. Without proper maintenance, fallen limbs and trunks can be much more of a headache. No matter which species you have on your property, be sure to schedule professional pruning to keep your yard safe through springtime and beyond. Send us a message to schedule an appointment with our tree experts online, or call (404) 252-6448.