If you’ve made it around the sun a couple dozen times and spent enough time outdoors, you’ve probably had at least a few close encounters with periodical cicadas. Whether it was only hearing the soundtrack of a constant hum in the background, or an up-close-and-personal dance with a rogue insect flying into your hair, these ubiquitous invaders definitely disrupt our enjoyment of the outdoors.

This year, the 17-year cicadas known as “Brood X” will emerge to make your outdoor experience a little noisier.

But let’s get to the bottom line – aside from being a general nuisance, do they do any damage to our lawns or landscaping? There’s some good news and some bad news. The good news is, NO, they won’t damage your turfgrass! They do make a bit of a mess when they emerge from the ground through “mud chimneys.” This may make your lawn look like it has been heavily core aerated. Ugly, but typically not damaging.

The bad news is cicadas can damage young trees and bushes. If possible, postpone planting of young trees and shrubs until fall. Cicadas lay eggs on over 200 different species of trees, and insecticides are not effective to control them. If you’ve already planted, totally encase the tree or shrub in fine, 1-cm mesh to protect the plant.

While the damage may be limited, the annoyance factor can be significant. Be prepared and keep a close eye on vulnerable plants… and maybe keep a tennis racket handy for a fun new game of swat the swarm.