As the cicadas retreat, you might start noticing the aftermath of their presence. One clear sign of cicada damage is "flagging," where young branch tips die off, marked by the slits where female cicadas laid their eggs. While this damage can kill small branch tips, rest assured that your plants are likely to recover in the long run. For younger trees, you can prune out any affected or dead branch tips.
Cicadas are gone, but they left tree scars!
cicada damage

Balanced Enviroments

July 8, 2024

Cicadas are gone, but they left scars!

As the cicadas retreat, you might start noticing the aftermath of their presence. One clear sign of cicada damage is “flagging,” where young branch tips die off, marked by the slits where female cicadas laid their eggs. While this damage can kill small branch tips, rest assured that your plants are likely to recover in the long run. For younger trees, you can prune out any affected or dead branch tips.

Understanding Cicada Damage:

  • Flagging: This is the most noticeable sign, where branches die back to about 12 inches from their tips, leaves turn brown, and the wood becomes brittle. This is a result of cicadas creating slits in the bark to lay their eggs, disrupting sap flow.
  • Twig Scarring: Puncture wounds from egg-laying join up to form a long scar on the underside of branches, which can disrupt sap flow and cause flagging.

Management Tips:

  • Pruning: If you can safely reach the dead tips, prune them back to a point where a healthy side shoot is growing. This will help the tree heal faster and improve its appearance.
  • Self-Repair: Trees will naturally grow through this damage. The speed of recovery varies by tree type. For instance, delayed branch dieback may occur in black gum, purple-leaf plum, photinia, lilac, and dogwood, but trees like hornbeam and Southern magnolia show rapid healing.

Other Pests to Watch Out For:

  • Bagworms: These pests cause more permanent damage, especially to evergreens like arborvitae. They build cocoons of dead needles, making them hard to spot. Handpicking and destroying the cocoons, or spraying with organic solutions can help control them.
  • Scale Insects: These insects can significantly damage ornamental woody plants and citrus. They cover themselves in a white waxy coat or dark carapace, making them hard to control with contact insecticides. Organic horticultural oils are effective against scale insects.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to reach out to our Tree Department at BEI.

brown leaves

Branch dies back and leaves turn brown

tree pruning

Tree Pruning

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