Skip to navigation Skip to content

Preparing New Plants for the Cicada Summer

With all the buzz about the periodical cicada emergence this summer, many are wondering if they need to protect their plants at home.

While mature, healthy trees and shrubs can tolerate large number of cicadas, newly planted or unhealthy vegetation could be vulnerable to female cicada, who puncture twigs to lay their eggs as part of their life cycle. If you are concerned about your recently planted sapling or shrub, here are some ways to protect them during the six weeks of cicada activity this summer.

  • Mulch, water, and care for your trees in the spring to ensure they are healthy before cicadas emerge in May.
  • Cover vulnerable trees and shrubs with a fine protective net that allows for air flow, such as tulle fabric or light window screen mesh, preferably after leaves emerge and harden but before adult cicada arrive. You can close any gaps with clothespins or staples. Alternatively, you could gently zip tie the fabric or mesh around the base of the trunk.
  • Do not use pesticides as they are typically ineffective and can harm helpful insects that keep your tree or shrub healthy. Cicadas are a natural part of our community that rarely damage plants.
  • If possible, wait to plant trees with a trunk diameter of less than 2 inches in the fall or after the six weeks of peak cicada activity that's expected to start in late April or early May.

Cicadas are a natural wonder and even serve as a source of fertilizer that helps plants grow later in the summer. If you follow these tips, you can position your plants to flourish into the fall and prepare for the next periodical cicada emergence 17 years later in 2041!



If you're unable to take the precautionary steps above and certain branch tips appear to be dying, you can carefully prune them.  It's important to protect the central leader (top of the stem or trunk) and trim back lateral branches (radiating from the trunk), removing damaged tissue. Staff at the Forest Preserve District's nursery use this reactive process for ailing young trees or shrubs.

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

Photo of blog author Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County welcomes more than 6.2 million visitors a year; and manages nearly 26,000 acres in 60 forest preserves containing prairies, woodlands and wetlands.

Subscribe To Stories