Cicada Infestation in a Garden

Magicicada (via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Cicadas are a common insect that can infest gardens, causing damage to plants and trees. These insects are known for their loud, persistent singing and their large, bulky bodies. Cicadas can be a major pest in gardens, as they feed on the sap of plants and can quickly defoliate trees and shrubs. It’s important to note that cicadas are not harmful to human. They are just a nuissance.


  • Wilted or damaged leaves on plants and trees due to cicadas feeding on the sap of the plants.
  • Large numbers of cicadas present on plants and trees, which can quickly defoliate a tree or shrub if the infestation is severe.
  • Holes in leaves and branches caused by cicada feeding. These holes can be circular or jagged and can weaken the plant or tree.
  • Distinctive singing noise coming from the garden, which is caused by the males calling for females during mating season.
  • Cicadas can also cause damage to young trees by laying eggs on branches, twigs, and the trunk. This can cause the branches and twigs to die and the tree to become stunted.
  • Some species of cicadas can also cause damage to fruit trees by feeding on the fruit, causing it to become distorted or discolored.
  • Cicadas can also damage ornamental plants by feeding on the foliage, causing it to become withered and discolored.

What is a Cicada

  • Large, bulky body (1-2 inches long)
  • Clear wings with a dark band or “vein” running across the length of the wings
  • Prominent eyes on the side of the head
  • Usually brown, green or black in color, depending on the species
  • Some species have a “eye-like” spots on the thorax
  • The thorax is usually wider than the head and the abdomen
  • The legs are usually short and sturdy
  • The antennae are usually long and thin
  • The exoskeleton is hard and shiny
  • The cicada has two pairs of wings, the front wings are large and transparent, while the hind wings are smaller and opaque
  • The cicada’s mouthparts are strong and sharp, which they use to pierce and suck sap from plants.

Treating a Cicada Infestation

It may be necessary to use multiple methods to effectively control a cicada infestation in a garden. For example, handpicking and pruning can be used to physically remove cicadas from the garden, while chemical or biological control methods can be used to reduce the population of cicadas in the long term. It’s important to note that chemical control should be used with caution, as it can also affect beneficial insects and other wildlife.

Handpicking and pruning can be effective in reducing the population of cicadas on specific plants or trees, but it is not a long-term solution for cicada infestations. Cicadas have a life cycle that typically lasts for several years, and they will eventually emerge as adults, mate and lay eggs, and then die. Pruning infested branches and twigs can help to reduce the population of cicadas and prevent them from spreading to other parts of the garden, but new adults will eventually emerge from the soil.


  • Wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to protect your skin from the cicadas.
  • Use a small container or plastic bag to collect the cicadas.
  • Pick cicadas off of plants and trees, paying special attention to the leaves, branches and twigs.
  • Dispose of the cicadas and the container or bag in a sealed plastic bag and put it in the trash.


  • Identify the branches, twigs, and foliage that are infested with cicadas.
  • Use sharp and clean pruning shears to cut the infested branches and twigs.
  • Dispose of the cut branches and twigs in a sealed plastic bag and put it in the trash.
  • Use a clean cloth to wipe the pruning shears after each cut to prevent the spread of disease.

Chemical Control

  • Choose an insecticide that is labeled for use on cicadas and follow the instructions on the label carefully.
  • Be sure to apply the insecticide when the cicadas are present on the surface of the plants and trees.
  • Most insecticides will need to be reapplied after a certain period of time, usually 7-10 days, to maintain control of cicadas.
  • Always wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a mask when applying insecticides.
  • Do not use insecticides near water sources or where bees are present.

Biological Control

  • Plant trees, shrubs, and flowers that are known to attract birds, lizards, and beneficial insects such as praying mantis, ladybugs, and green lacewings.
  • Provide bird feeders, birdbaths and nesting boxes in the garden to attract birds.
  • Keep the garden free of pesticides, so that beneficial insects can thrive.