Widespread damage to oaks and other trees are now visible in areas across Virginia, officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry announced Thursday.
Female cicadas have laid eggs in the branches of many different trees and shrubs. Forest health specialists say the cicadas slice into the plant tissue and deposit up to 20 eggs.
VDOF forest health specialist Dr. Chris Asaro says that a single female cicada can create about 30 egg nests, laying as many as 600 eggs.
“When you consider how many millions of female cicadas were laying eggs over the past few weeks, there are literally billions of slices in the trees,” he said. “ All of these cuts along the length of the outer branches can cause enough structural damage to kill the terminal, which turns brown, a phenomenon known as ‘flagging’ or ‘twig dieback’.”
The VDOF says the ‘flagging’ is now visible across Virginia’s Piedmont and Coastal Plain and may vary from a few branches to almost every available twig.
However, they say most medium to large trees will not suffer any serious long-term damage.
They also note that the good news is that it won’t happen again for another 17 years.