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Cicadas left behind eggs on tree branches, turning leaves brown

From Staff Reports Published: August 3, 2016 12:00 AM

Hudson -- The 17-year periodical cicadas may be gone, but they have left behind signs of their visit.

Brown leaves on the ends of branches can be seen throughout the area where cicadas emerged in May. The humming sounds could be heard in trees as the males serenaded the females. After mating, the female inserted her eggs into slits in the narrow stems of the trees. Then the adults died, but the life cycle is only beginning. After a few weeks, the eggs hatched into nymphs, which dropped to the ground and burrowed into the soil, feeding on juices from the tree roots for the next 17 years.

The slit where the cicada females laid their eggs causes damage to the vascular system of the tree, and the stem or end portion of the tree limbs die beyond the egg laying site. Some of the dead sections broke and fell to the ground. Those that remain attached to the tree cause the leaves to dehydrate, wilt and turn brown, which is called "flagging" because it looks like small flags are tied to the end of the branches.

Flagging can be dramatic and trees showing the heaviest flagging include oaks, maples, honey locusts and a few other hardwoods. Information was obtained from the Ohio State University Extension at http://bygl.osu.edu/node/417.


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