Cicadas Browning Many Trees in NE Ohio

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In many areas of Northeast Ohio you can see vast areas of trees with brown leaves.   The tips of many oak tree branches, in particular, have what scientists call “flagging.” Ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports it not the hot weather that is bugging those trees.


You don’t hear them now but the billions of 17 year cicadas and erupted out of the ground in May are to blame.  Ohio State Professor Dave Shetlar, also known as the Bug Doc,  says the females laid their eggs in the small pencil like branch ends.

“Some of these branches may have a series of egg scars on 2 or even 3 sides of the branch.  And with all that damage done to the branch the vascular system gets disrupted and the branch dies. “

It’s been particularly tough on oak trees that appear to be suffering a blight.   Maples and locusts also show signs of this so-called “flagging.” 

“For mature trees, I would say trees that are probably in that 15 -20  feet or larger, it appears nature’s pruning.   And actually the next year those trees, the oak trees that are affected will probably produce more acorns next year.” 

 Shetlar says fruit growers sprayed their trees or tented them with netting to keep the bugs out. The cicadas also threatened bushes.

“If they’ve got branches in the 1 inch caliper or diameter the cicadas can lay their eggs in that.   So we did have some small fruit growers – both the brambles, things like blackberries and raspberries and the blueberry producers  -also protected their crops.”  

In Northern Ohio, Summit and Medina counties have been especially hard hit.

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