Brood V – a group of periodic cicadas – will soon begin to emerge from the ground much to the displeasure of many West Virginians this summer. While they are a large unattractive insect, Daniel Frank, West Virginia University Extension Service entomology expert, advised that they’re nothing to be afraid of.
“Cicadas are not normally considered significant pests,” Frank explained. “They’re plant feeders, pose no health threat to people or pets and will not bite or sting.”
Periodic cicadas are found only in eastern North America, and have 13- or 17-year life cycles. Brood V has a 17-year life cycle, which means that the adults emerging from the ground this summer have been feeding on tree roots roughly since 1999.
In May, when soil temperatures begin to exceed 64 degrees Fahrenheit, the nymphs will emerge from the ground to climb onto a tree or similar surface, shed their exoskeleton and become winged adults. From that point, the cicadas will only live a few weeks to reproduce, then will die.
“The silver lining in all of this is that periodic cicadas are very beneficial for the environment,” Frank said. “They aerate the soil, their bodies contribute nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil when they die and they serve as a food source for birds, mammals and fish.”
For more information regarding cicadas, or any other pest, contact Daniel Frank at 304.293.8835 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional resources are available at local WVU Extension Service offices or anr.ext.wvu.edu/pests.
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CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU Extension Service
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