What Multifamily Should Know About Cicadas

Preparing for the next wave starts with understanding this one.

Woodcut cicada on row houses
A Brood X Cicada crawling on houses. Image by xochicalco/iStockphoto.com

There are so many things that multifamily residents look forward to over the summer. Soaking up some sun by the pool, lounging around the community’s grounds and finally taking advantage of the newly installed e-bikes might be some of the many. But for most (minus the exclusion of a few creepy crawly lovers), battling an onslaught of cicadas just to make it through the front door isn’t one of them.

While there isn’t too much to be done about when and where cicadas pop up, there are things that multifamily managers and owners can do to mitigate the effects the bugs have on their residents.

What to know about cicadas

The cicada, part of the Cicadidae family, is a sound-producing insect located in tropical and temperate locations. They can grow up to 2 inches with a pair of transparent wings (yep, they’re pretty big).

It’s only the male cicadas that produce the characteristic noise that so many residents came to hate this summer. They do so by vibrating membranes near their abdomen. Female cicadas, on the other hand, can make noises by clicking or snapping their wings together.

Once a cicada hatches, it burrows into the ground until it reaches maturity (which can take more than a year). Adult cicadas that reemerge typically only live for a couple of weeks to around a month. They’re most present nationally around the South and Midwest.

What is crucial to know is that these creepy crawlies don’t bite. Yes, they’re loud and a little scary looking, but they pose no physical threat to the safety of your residents.

Why this year was so bad

For those that lived in the states where cicadas have been present this year, they know that this onslaught of cicadas was particularly dramatic. For those that don’t live near the bugs, social media platforms were filled with videos of people covering themselves with everything from umbrellas to trash bags just to go grocery shopping.

But why has 2024 been so buggy? Well, cicadas are a periodic insect. And it just so happened that this year, two different periodic cicada broods co-emerged. For the first time since 1803, a 13-year Brood XIX came out of the ground in the same year as the 17-year Brood XIII.

While both broods emerge this year, they haven’t been anticipated or reported to overlap too significantly. So, while there hasn’t been a double density of cicadas this year, they’ve been widely and significantly present nonetheless.

What multifamily can do

While you can’t stop cicadas from coming out, you can mitigate some of the impacts they have on residents. The following are ways to keep your grounds clean and your residents happy for the rest of this cicada double whammy and following waves to come:

  • Cover younger trees with netting or cheesecloth. Cicadas can cause damage to younger trees. To keep your landscaping safe, cover what you can until the bug invasion ceases.
  • Install screens on resident windows and balconies to keep cicadas from coming inside.
  • Consult a pest management professional on which areas of your property can be maintained or trimmed to deter future cicadas.
  • Consistently clean your grounds of dead cicadas or shed cicada skins. Gross.
  • Offer more resident events inside for those that fear the insects.
  • During peak cicada season, encourage and aid residents in the use of grocery-delivery services.
  • Educate your residents about cicadas as well as the local ecosystems that they impact. Who knows, maybe some will start to appreciate them.
  • Encourage residents to enjoy the outdoors earlier or later in the day. Cicadas are more active during higher temperatures, so more activities can be conducted during cooler daytime and nighttime hours.
  • Avoid planting new trees and bushes the year before the next cicada brood, as the insects can harm, take shelter and lay eggs in them.

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