Cicada Invasion Causes Some To Panic
Calm Urged; Media Invited To See Expert Tree-Wrapping
LISLE, IL (May 11, 2007) – Like expectant parents, some homeowners around Chicagoland are jittery about the “new additions” coming soon.
“We are getting approximately 50 calls a day about cicadas, and many of these callers are worried about the bugs,” says Doris Taylor, manager of The Morton Arboretum Plant Clinic, which diagnoses problems of trees and other plants, and recommends solutions. “There’s absolutely no reason to panic,” Taylor says.
Millions of cicadas will emerge soon in Northern Illinois, and there are sporadic reports of some emerging already. Cicadas do not bite humans, but they can harm smaller trees and some shrubs. For this reason, experts next week will wrap approximately 75 Arboretum trees in protective netting, similar to tulle – the fabric used in bridal veils and ballet tutus.
“The cicadas actually prefer branches that are the diameter of a pencil, but can lay their eggs in a branch between one-quarter and one-half of an inch in diameter,” says Kris Bachtell, Arboretum Director of Collections and Grounds.
Female cicadas make slits in branches, prior to laying their eggs. These slits leave the branches weakened, and damage can occur through the year as high winds snap these branches.
There is no concern about cicadas attacking larger trees, however, because when branches are lost through cicada damage, this “can be considered pruning,” Bachtell says.
The Arboretum does not advise using any pesticides, because such chemicals will not stop the invasion, and the insects do not harm humans.
The creatures have the longest lifecycle of any insect in North America, and this makes their emergence “phenomenal” and “a really cool thing,” Bachtell says.
He also notes that cicadas live for 17 years, sucking on the sap of tree roots a little at a time, and therefore, do not kill the trees. This means the cicadas are “truly in balance with nature.”
Anyone can learn more about the bug’s lifecycle and what to expect in our communities in the program: “What’s the Buzz? The 17-Year Cicadas!” Entomologist Dr. Fredric Miller leads an informative discussion about cicadas, and then leads visitors on a search for these creatures, or sign that they are about to emerge. This session is May 20, 2 – 3 p.m. in the Visitor Center Events Room.
Plenty of people are having fun with the expected emergence; some are buying tee-shirts that say: “Cicada 2007 – coming to a tree near you.” Others are wearing cicada “pins” on their shoulders, making it appear the bug is actually sitting there. Also – the internet is full of recipes for cicada dishes.
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized 1,700-acre outdoor museum with collections of 4,057 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or sunset, whichever is earlier, Central Time. The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CDT) and 9:30 to 4 p.m. (CST). Visit www.mortonarb.org or call 630-968-0074 to learn more.
Media Contact: Gina Tedesco, 630-725-2103,