I seem to have a large amount of cicadas in my back yard around my shed. I think they are killing my newly planted hostas and elephant ear plants. Why do you think they are drawn to the shed area and what can I do to get rid of them or at least save my plants?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Allison: What do your hosta and elephant ears look like? Is there damage to the foliage? If the answer is yes, I would not blame the damage on the cicadas. During the larval stage they do eat tree sap, but this is done in the soil. Otherwise, they do not feed on the actual foliage. They can also damage twigs when the females lay their eggs into them. Locusts, on the other hand, are technically grasshoppers and they will feed on the foliage. Japanese beetles will also feed on our plants and make the leaves look like Swiss cheese. The good news is if the damage is just to the foliage, the roots on the hosta and elephant ear bulbs are healthy and will return next year with new growth. The elephant ear bulbs can be dug and stored during the winter months and planted next spring. Identifying the culprit is important in terms of control. You can always take samples to the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service, or if you want to, bring a sample of the plants and/or insect to The Plant Kingdom we would be happy to look at it for you. In most cases each plant has their own specific insect problems. It is not very common to find the same insect on different plants just because they are planted next to one another. We have noticed this year that the Japanese beetles have been feeding on plants that they normally do not touch, so there are always exceptions, but knowing exactly what you are dealing with will help determine the means of control. As for why these insects are attracted to your shed I can only speculate. Cicadas would be attracted to this area only if there are trees where they can live the majority of their lives among the roots. The annual cicadas are making their appearance now but the periodical cicadas are not expected this year.