Cicada Mud Tubes
July 14, 2016
Does the image on this page look like something out of a science fiction movie? Well, this isn't an image of some mysterious alien landscape created by the specials effects geniuses in Hollywood. This photo was taken underneath a pile of construction lumber near a house in Southeastern Ohio. So, those aren't gigantic structures. The chimney-like mud constructs you see in this picture are about the size of a quarter at the top and a half dollar at the bottom; and, as you may have guessed by the title of this article, they were created by cicadas.
What are these mud structures?
These are called chimneys or turrets, and periodical cicada nymphs may build them if their tunnels are in wet, saturated, or muddy soil or if their homes are being flooded. These structures protect the nymph cicada from drowning or suffocating.
What is a periodical cicada?
There are three types of cicada life cycles: annual, periodical, and proto-periodical. Annual cicadas are not synchronized with other cicadas for emergence and are able to live for nine or more years. These are the cicadas you'll see every year. Periodicals emerge together every 13 or 17 years like a swarm of locust. But it is important to point out that there are few commonalities between locusts and cicadas. Proto-periodicals erupt in large numbers on occasion but are rare in all other years. So, depending on what year it is, and whether or not your state has 13 or 17 year periodical cicadas, you could see populations that are anywhere from "small" to "completely out of control."
Why are these cicadas under this woodpile?
In the photo you can see tiny plants growing up underneath this wood pile. Those are saplings; and since cicada nymphs nourish themselves with the sap from trees (specifically oak, willow, cypress, maple, and ash), this is the perfect place for these little cicadas to mature.
What do these cicada chimneys tell us?
In spring, these structures are a good indication that an adult cicada is about to emerge. Cicada nymphs build mud tubes in the spring of their emergence year.
What do I do if I find these mud tubes?
If you're finding the mud tubes of cicadas, it is probably already too late to do anything about all the cicadas that were in those tunnels because in summer, those cicadas will have already left them behind. But, it is important to remove the conditions in your yard that make cicadas target it. In this specific case, the removal of all tree saplings will give future cicadas less reason to target this property.
Remember, if you have issues with cicadas, or any other pest, give Action Pest Control a Call. Our experienced professionals have the training and expertise to handle any pest issue you throw at us. Don’t let pests stress you out. Take action and get Action. Action Pest Control.
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