Cicadas in the orchard

The 17-year cicadas are starting to lay eggs in young tree branches on our farm in central Virginia. We’re not worried about any effects of the cicadas on our gardens, and trees of significant size will at least survive.

However, we made the mistake of planting several young trees last fall – persimmons, jujubes, and other fruit trees. Had we known that it would be a cicada year, we would have held off. Such young trees can be severely injured and even killed by cicada oviposition, so I’m experimenting with loosely covering the trees with pieces of a garden blanket. I’ve put bamboo tops – old enough for the bamboo leaves to have fallen off – inside some of the blanket pieces to keep the blanket material from pressing too much against the trees’ leaves and branches. I’ve used pins and rubber bands to seal the openings in the garden blanket pieces and keep cicadas out.

However, cicadas already had laid eggs in some branches of most of these trees, and in the trunk of one unfortunate little pear tree that we’ve had for a couple of years. So I bound that half-inch-wide trunk, and many of the affected branches of our other young trees, in sealing/ grafting film.

I’m hoping the sealing/ grafting will help the branch tissues knit back together, and that it might possibly restrict the eggs’ access to oxygen. I wish I knew if cicada eggs cause the branches to split down the middle as the eggs grow, and I hope I’m reducing the risk of that. But the sealing/ grafting film and the garden blankets are both entirely experimental measures, and I chose them in part based on the materials we had on hand. I hope the trees won’t heat up too much inside the garden blankets, and I hope I’m not using so much grafting film as to cause mold on the branches.


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