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If you live in the southern or eastern part of Virginia, you may see cicadas emerging this week

Photo courtesy via Canva
Photo courtesy via Canva

You may have heard the buzz in the media that 13-year cicadas will begin emerging across the south this week, until mid-June. But only a handful of Virginia counties are likely to see them.

This story was reported and written by Radio IQ

If you live in the southern part of Virginia, or along the eastern coast, you may see cicadas this year.

“Maybe as far as Richmond,” said Doug Pfeiffer, a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech. “But really, we’re at the northern edge of the distribution of the great southern brood.”

He said this year’s cicada brood will mostly affect states in the Deep South. And if you saw cicadas in 2011, that may not mean you’ll see them this year, because changes to the environment like adding pavement may have killed them.

“You remove trees and then you remove the cicadas too,” Pfeiffer, who works with  Virginia Cooperative extension agents across the state, said. “So, we’re waiting to see exactly where it does come out this season.”

If you have young fruit trees or grape vines that have been recently planted, you may want to protect them with bird netting, or use insecticide to keep the cicadas away. “You may have to spray repeatedly during the period of cicada activity,” Pfeiffer advised.

If you do choose to use insecticide, Pfeiffer notes that, if possible, it’s always best to try to avoid killing beneficial insects. “If you do, you’ll just have to watch out for secondary pest outbreaks later,” Pfeiffer said.

If you don’t have young trees or vines to protect, Pfeiffer said it’s best to leave the insects be, as cicadas are beneficial to the environment. Birds and mammals eat them, and dead cicadas help replenish the soil with nutrients, which help plants grow.

He enjoys listening to the sound of cicadas singing, but he knows some people get annoyed.

“And I guess they can take consolation from the fact that they’ll go away soon. It’ll only last 4 to 6 weeks. And then they’ll be gone for years to come,” Pfeiffer said.

He added that if you do spot cicadas, you can help scientists who are tracking the insects by  contacting your local extension agent.