Cicadas might be gone, but the damage to your trees isn’t. Should you be worried?

You have two really simple choices if cicadas damaged your tree branches: leave the branches there to fall on their own or cut them off yourself.

Cicadas lay their eggs in tree branches.

“You’ll see like the little train track patterns on the side of the branches where the females actually laid their eggs,” said Dave Kemon.

“They’ll be in that branch for about a little over a month and then the nymphs will hatch and fall to the ground and go into the ground and come back in 17 years,” Kemon said.

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The loud buzzing of all those cicadas has finally subsided, and you’re free to spend some quiet time in your backyard again. But instead of dodging dive-bombing bugs, now you have dying tree branches dangling and falling off.

First, before you overreact, you need to be sure it’s cicada damage.

“You’ll see like the little train track patterns on the side of the branches where the females actually laid their eggs,” said Dave Kemon, holding up a little branch with dotted lines carved off in the bark.

Kemon is a floor supervisor at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Maryland, and someone lots of people seek out for advice on things going wrong in their yards.

“They’ll be in that branch for about a little over a month and then the nymphs will hatch and fall to the ground and go into the ground and come back in 17 years,” he said.

You have two really simple choices if that’s what your left with: leave the branches there to fall on their own or cut them off yourself.

“If they snap dead, just cut them,” Kemon said. “Normally only half of it will be dead, so just cut the bad part and a new shoot will come out from the other side, it’ll re-germinate itself. Anything that will snap right off, if you’re worried about it, just get rid of it.”

He said the bugs seek out thinner, smaller branches to lay hundreds of eggs in each little “line” in the hopes that eventually the branch will die and then fall off, giving the nymphs an easy escape underground.

“If you notice a lot more branches dying, you have something else going on besides cicadas.

“It doesn’t hurt once it’s over and done with to give the plants some nutrients just to boost it back up again. Any type of plant food.”

Otherwise, don’t sweat it.

“Trees are kind of like us,” Kemon said. “We cut our finger, we automatically heal. Trees, if something scratches them or hits them or they snap off, they heal over, so they take care of themselves.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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