The cicadas that emerge every year (in eastern U.S.) are commonly called the
dog-day cicadas, because they emerge in July and August. It is not known
(at least according to my old general entomology textbook) how long they
take to develop, but it is probably longer than 4 years. However, the broods
overlap, so some adults emerge each year. "Tibicen" is the name of a common
The periodical cicadas (sometimes called locusts because of their sudden
appearance in large numbers -- the real locusts are swarming species of
grasshopers) have 13 or 17 year life cycles that are synchronized, so many
adults appear at once. They belong to the genus "Magicicada." They
generally emerge in late May and early June.
It is true that the cicadas are not a threat to vegetables, except possibly
incidentally while emerging from the ground in recently cleared areas.
Periodical cicadas in dense populations can do substantial damage to some
trees. A colleague of mine who works with insects of apple trees has found
locally heavy damage.
Department of Entomology
CT Agricultural Experiment Station
New Haven, CT 06504
From: Russ Bulluck <email@example.com>
To: Kevin Smyth <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Sustainable Ag
Date: Monday, March 22, 1999 9:31 AM
Subject: Re: 17 year locusts
>Actually, the 17 year locust appears each year, just that every 17 years, a
>bumper crop appears. Cicadas mainly like oak trees (especially Quercus
>the white oak). I thought that 1995 or 96 was the 17th year. (There is
>a three year locust, and several other species, I think.) The main effect
>the cicada is tip dieback in oak trees. They seem to like the fresh tips
>oak branches. I don't think you have to worry about the veggies.
>In the summer of 1996, while moving from PA to NC to finish graduate work,
>_all_ of the oak trees on highway 15 through Virginia had dead tips. It
>quite a sight. When I reached NC State, I asked a forest pathologist here,
>who said it was the 17 year locust.
>Kevin Smyth wrote:
>> Friends - This is the year for the 17 year locusts (I heard they were
>> actually cicadas), and I am wondering what effect they might have on our
>> vegetable crops here in SE Ohio. We grow 2.5 acres organic vegetables for
>> a CSA here. Anybody know?
>> Kevin Smyth
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>Department of Plant Pathology
>North Carolina State University
>PO Box 7616
>Raleigh, NC 27695-7616
>The soil population is so complex that it manifestly cannot
>be dealt with as a whole with any detail by any one person,
>and at the same time it plays so important a part in the soil
>economy that it must be studied.
>--Sir E. John Russell
>The Micro-organisms of the Soil, 1923
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