Cicada Damage Suggestions


Many of my young fruit trees that I planted in the fall of 2018 were damaged by cicadas. I didn’t realize how much damage they could cause. I learned a hard lesson and am pretty disheartened. There is a huge population of cicadas where I live - so loud you almost needed hearing protection to be outside.

Most of my grafted pawpaws were hit pretty hard. The most of the undersides of side branches were damaged to some degree as well as, surprisingly, many of the leaders. The damage looks like it’s more than superficial, causing the wood to “flare out” in many instances. I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t want stunted trees or trees with weak wood that I’m always worried will break. See below for a few photos.

Should I try pruning the damaged wood off and hope what’s left of the trees will recover still make a nice tree? I’m not sure what happens when the leader is damaged. Will a dormant bud replace it? I’m okay if I lose a year or even two years of the tree’s progress. I’d rather take the pain now than end up with weak, unproductive trees.

Another thought I had was to cut the tree back and re-graft them. Any thoughts or suggestions about this approach?

I also have some persimmons, pears, and a cherry tree with similar damage and would appreciate suggestions for those as well. They weren’t damaged quite as bad as the pawpaws but many did have their main leader damaged.

Thanks so much for any suggestions.

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On smaller trees I have been pruning damaged limbs off so the main trunk is not disfigured. On the larger trees only the bent-down branches are getting removed. Even if you do nothing it should heal over, but there is a greater chance of infection or breakage in the future. So, it is a trade-off.

Trees are very resilient, they will grow a new leader if you prune off the current one. 17 years ago I had 100 2-year trees which got decimated, but the next year they all grew back fine. I probably lost a year worth of growth overall.


Sorry to see this damaged his! This older thread may help 17 year cicada's woke up hungry

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I have gone through 2 rounds of cicadas here in my orchard.
Next here will be 2024. I did not have the brood emergence this year.
My opinion / experience is that it’s important to remove this damage.
On small trees I would remove all damage as as a winter pruning.
They will regrow new healthy wood the following year , good to go.
On bigger / older trees , I think it may be best to spread out the removal over ~ 3 yrs.
Cicada damaged twigs often don’t heal well. Can be a eye sore,
A source of pests and disease for years. Damaged Branches will often break under fruit load in the future.
I try to remove it all.

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I need to do some serious pruning this off season with my peach and Asian pear trees. The exposed wood will continue to decay, particularly the peach trees with all the jelly sap coming out. The good thing is that, they are relatively larger trees.

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I really appreciate everyone’s responses! I feel better about the prospects of the trees recovering

When is the best time to start pruning off the damaged wood?

I think this is a tough question as to when.

I normally wait to end of winter. Then the tender cuts won’t go through the harsh winter. But the wounds can harbor pests.

If we prune in early winter, there could be some winter damage to the tender cuts.

I’ll probably prune off the seriously damaged early. Then prune again in late winter.

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