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Bonus Episode

The Cicadas Are Coming

In this bonus episode, Rusty continues his conversation with Entomologist, Nikki Hendrickson. It’s almost time for Brood X, the periodical cicada, the 17-year cicada! Tune in to find out when you can expect their emergence and what kind of damage to look out for, plus information about the cicada killer wasp.

About our guest:
Nikki Hendrickson is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Entomology and Horticultural Production and has a Master of Science in Entomology from the University of Kentucky. For the last 20 years, she has held various roles in the green industry, including being a sales representative for Advanced Turf Solutions and positions with multiple trade associations. Nikki is the current president of the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation and a member of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association Board of Directors. She has served as the past president of both the Indiana Professional Lawn and Landscape Association and the Green Industry Alliance.

About our host
Rusty Stachlewitz is a Seed Product Manager at Advanced Turf Solutions. Rusty received his Bachelor of Science in Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University with an emphasis in Turfgrass Management. He has been a Golf Course Superintendent and General Manager in the industry. He’s also been the turfgrass department head of two colleges and the Program Director of The Lawn Institute.

Rusty Stachlewitz 00:02
Cicadas. Lay eggs in the bark. Come out after dark daily. Oh, cicadas. They live in the trees. Attract things will ease with their drone. Their drone. Making love is all they do. These cicadas from the X Brood.

Rusty Stachlewitz 00:35
Welcome to Around the Turf Scene. I’m your host, Rusty Stachlewitz. And this is a very special little snippet that we had from a previous interview. Every once in a while we end up going a little long or asking questions we can’t fit into our regular podcast and this is one of them. We’re going to do a call back to visit with Nikki Hendrickson and we’re going to actually talk about the periodical cicadas. So enjoy.

You’re an entomologist. I know you, I know you’re very excited for this year because it’s…

Nikki Hendrickson 01:05
Brood X!

Rusty Stachlewitz 01:05
Brood X of the cicadas. So, explain what that means and what we should expect.

Nikki Hendrickson 01:13
Brood X, the periodical cicada, the 17-year cicada. So, you think about that lifecycle. That nymph has been feeding on tree roots for 17 years. It is the longest-living insect out there. 17 years, it’s been underground feeding, and Brood X is the largest mass emergence of the periodical cicada that we have in the US. It is, it is a big brood. So, I actually had to look this up for when to expect emergence. Because you know, I always, you think of your annual cicadas. So, the annual cicadas are the big green ones that we see, you know, every summer. And, I, like I always know it’s summer when I start hearing that first cicada. They call it the dog-day cicada. It’s the dog days of summer, you know, July, when it starts getting hot. The periodical cicada will come out probably sometime in May. So, it’s more soil-related. And, I looked it up and I wanted to say it was like somewhere around 67 degrees. And that soil temperature is going to hit 67 is when they’re going to start coming up out of the ground. It is going to be really, really loud and you will see cicadas everywhere. And these are the red ones.

Rusty Stachlewitz 02:52
The red ones. Okay. And so for those people who haven’t lived through it before, or haven’t paid attention, do they cause any damage? Should we worry about them in that aspect?

Nikki Hendrickson 03:03
So, what happens, the females actually have kind of a little saw, sort of, on the end. They’ve got their ovipositor and they shove it into soft branches of trees. So, typically smaller tips and stuff on trees, they’ll lay their eggs. A lot of times, those branches will fall off, and then they’ll hatch when they’re on the ground. When they hatch, the nymphs fall to the ground and then burrow underground. So, you can get some damage on trees. For the most part, on our bigger trees, we kind of call it natural pruning. if there’s enough of them that lay eggs and you get some tip death, you know what, natural pruning, we don’t worry about it. The only place that might be really of concern are on maybe on nurseries with really small trees. But honestly, there’s not a whole lot that we’re going to be able to do about that. Now, what they do when they emerge, it almost looks like a little mini molehills, you know, or like crawdad holes. You’ll have a little mud tube that comes out of the ground. You will see a lot of those around the base of trees this year, maybe, even out in some lawns, you know, just depending on how far that root, root systems of a tree expands well past the drip line of that tree.

Rusty Stachlewitz 04:37
Right, for sure.

Nikki Hendrickson 04:39
So, remember that.

Rusty Stachlewitz 04:39
For sure. So, there’s been a huge increase throughout the Midwest in the last few years of the cicada killing wasp. Should we expect more of those wipes because there’s this big brood of cicadas out there?

Nikki Hendrickson 04:52
No. I have a feeling that people will think that just be because we have the periodical cicadas, they’ll be more on the lookout for the cicada killer wasp. And it’ll, it’s just kind of a perception thing like, oh, man, there are definitely more these there this year. But the cicada killer wasp only feed on the annual cicadas. For those things to exist, they need a steady diet. They need a for sure diet every year, and they only feed on that annual cicada. So, if, you know, if you get more complaints about them this year, whether, because I know guys have had them in the bunkers. A lot of times people will see them out in the yard, and, they’ll just, they’ll be kind of guarding their zone. But, you know, it’s really going to be a perception thing. People think they see more because they are seeing these periodical cicadas. They’re going to be on the lookout for them more, but there’s no correlation whatsoever.

Rusty Stachlewitz 05:57
Well, since we’re on it, in general, should we be concerned, as humans, about the cicada killing wasp? Is it a problem for us?

Nikki Hendrickson 06:04
Not really. Um, don’t try to grab them with your bare hand. Don’t be that person. But really, they’re solitary wasp. And like, I’ve got a whole talk on solitary wasp, social wasp. Your social wasp are your paper wasp, much more likely to sting than solitary wasp. Your solitary wasp are your mud wasp. And, and your, in this instance, your ground-dwelling, I mean, they’re going to have a mud cavity. Unlike the yellow jackets, which can be underground. But they have a paper cavity underneath the ground. So, these are solitary wasp. You can, if you walk through an area where you see, you know, there might be 10 or 20 of them, you know, hovering over the ground, you can walk through there, they will not sting you. You try to handle them. They, they can sting then. At least the females can. And it can pack quite a punch if you do that. But for the most part, you leave them alone and they will absolutely leave you alone.

Rusty Stachlewitz 07:14
Fantastic. Thank you very much. I think that’s all we’ve got for today. I appreciate your time very much and have a great summer. I’ll wait for that buzz of the cicadas to know that it’s the dog days.

Nikki Hendrickson 07:28
Yes. Well, they might get drowned out this year from those darn periodicals. I’m, I’m trying to remember when, back in 2004, would have been the last time we had this, this brood. And I was a landscaper and a, or at least I worked for a landscaping company. I was an applicator, but I worked for a landscape company. And I, just, for, for several months, like it was just absolutely deafening, the sound. And then when they started to die, they died off in mass. And there were neighborhoods that just, oh, it smelled like that. It was horrible. So, I don’t know if we’ll hear a lot of the initial summer drones of that, that annual cicada. I’ll have to look for the fireflies. That’s always another sign to me, that it’s summer.

Nikki Hendrickson 08:23

Rusty Stachlewitz 08:25
Excellent. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Nikki Hendrickson 08:29
You’re welcome.

Rusty Stachlewitz 08:34
Thank you for listening to Around the Turf Scene. I hope you enjoyed our little bonus episode about cicadas. Around the Turf Scene is a production of Xylem Marketing.