The Q&A Archives: Cicadas slit peach trees

Question: I have 11 young peach trees and last summer something slit the tips of the new branches, causing them to die back. Should I do anything? Reuben Weihert Terre Haute, IN

Answer: It's almost certainly the periodical cicada, and your trees will quickly recover on their own, says Tim Gibb, entomologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. In 1994, there was an outbreak of cicadas in your area, he explains. Periodical cicada broods emerge on predictable 13- and 17-year cycles. Females emerge in early June and make a knifelike furrow in the stems of soft, new growth of trees and shrubs to insert their eggs. This slit often kills the tips of the branches. The eggshatch and the nymphs drop to the ground to feed. You won't see another severe outbreak until 1998, when your trees will be much larger and better able to withstand damage, Gibb adds.

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