The Hartselle Enquirer reports that after 13 years underground, the cicadas were back

Farmers are currently expressing concerns over the potential impact that millions of local cicadas, which are set to emerge from a 13-year underground hibernation, could have on their fruit trees.

This summer, Alabama will witness the emergence of periodic Brood 19 cicadas, adding to the already existing annual cicada species in the state. With over 20 species of annual cicadas, Alabama is no stranger to the buzzing symphony of these fascinating insects. However, the arrival of Brood 19 cicadas is expected to bring a unique experience for the residents of Alabama.

According to Jayne Luetzow, the Regional Extension Agent for Morgan County, Alabama, residents should anticipate the emergence of Brood 19 next month. Luetzow warns that millions of these insects will be hatching in the area.

According to The Associated Press, scientists who study birds have found that they are not only beautiful creatures but also surprisingly loud. In fact, their collective songs can reach volumes as high as jet engines. To protect their own hearing, these scientists often wear earmuffs while conducting their research.

According to Schrader, the brood is harmless and there is no need to worry if household pets or even children consume them. Additionally, he mentioned that the brood is high in protein.

In fact, roasted cicadas are even included in certain cuisines. For instance, the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans offers a green salad with apple, almonds, and blueberry vinaigrette, topped with roasted cicadas.

According to Luetzow, cicadas have a limited range of flight and typically do not travel more than 50 meters from their emergence site. As a result, they are unlikely to journey across the entire state.

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Luetzow explained that the cicadas in Morgan County won’t be found in Lawrence County because they are unable to fly such long distances.

Cicadas emerge with the purpose of mating and laying their eggs into young trees, with a preference for fruit trees as their birthing place, according to Luetzow.

“They have a preference for trees and shrubs that are not very sticky, so they won’t attack pine trees,” Luetzow explained. “Fruit trees like apple trees have young and tender foliage and branches. The female cicada will carefully insert her egg into the branches without causing any harm to the foliage. Once done, she will then fly away.”

Once cicadas lay their eggs in tree branches, the newly hatched cicadas will burrow into the surrounding soil until they reach maturity and are ready to emerge.

Farmer Wes Isom recalls his experience with the Brood 19 cicadas in 2011 and notes that they were more abundant in Tennessee compared to Alabama. As the owner of Isom’s Orchard in Athens, where he cultivates apple and peach trees on 80 acres, Isom has firsthand knowledge of the cicada population in the area.

“They can be a bit of a nuisance,” Isom remarked. “During the last hatching, I noticed that the further you went into Tennessee, the more abundant they became. We didn’t encounter many issues with peach trees, but they could potentially pose a problem for apple trees. While cicadas don’t directly disrupt the tree’s vascular system, the new tissue laid by the cicadas could impede its growth and hinder its development.”

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In 2011, Isom mentioned that his apple trees were fortunate enough to experience minimal damage. However, he noted that his farmer friends in Madison County were not as fortunate.

Isom mentioned a family, Scott’s Orchard, that farms in Madison County and spans across the Alabama and Tennessee border. He observed that the young apple trees in their orchard seemed to have suffered more damage compared to the older ones.

Isom mentioned that farmers typically use insecticide to protect their trees from cicadas, but he personally chooses not to spray unless there is a significant swarm specifically targeting his trees.

According to Isom, unless the infestation becomes severe, there is no plan to spray for the pests. Treating the ground before they emerge would not be practical since they have stopped feeding and using a soil-based insecticide would not yield significant results. Additionally, the pests are also present in the surrounding woodland, making it impossible to completely eliminate them.

Moulton farmer Larry LouAllen is opting to hold off on spraying insecticide on his peach trees for now. He wants to observe the effects of the cicada brood before taking any action.

LouAllen expressed a calm and adaptive approach to the situation, stating, “We’ll just deal with it as it comes.” Acknowledging the uncertain nature of the situation, she added, “We’re going to wait and see what the damage is and if we’ll even have damage.” While the presence of cicadas is not new to the area, LouAllen noted that this particular emergence may require more proactive measures to control their population.

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While the cicada onslaught will undoubtedly cause problems locally, it is important to note that other parts of the United States will be experiencing an even rarer phenomenon this spring – the simultaneous appearance of two cicada broods.

Brood 13 cicadas are set to emerge in the northern and midwestern states, where they will coincide with the appearance of Brood 19 cicadas in some areas.

According to Luetzow, Brood 13 will primarily be present in Illinois, specifically in the southern region, while Brood 19 will be observed in Alabama. There will be an overlap of these two broods in the Midwest.

Over 200 years ago was the last time when the broods overlapped.

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