Insect & Animal Tips
The Brood X Cicadas are Coming!
Brood X cicadas emerge this year, and will be around for about six weeks between May and June.
Cicadas are harmless to humans and have a number of benefits for the environment. They will not cause significant damage to most plants or established trees, although they will lay eggs in thin tree branches. Young trees can be protected by wrapping them with insect occlusion netting, making sure there is still air circulation and enough space for smaller, beneficial insects to reach the tree.
Cicadas are an excellent food source for birds and humans can "enjoy" them too (for the adventurous, cicada recipes abound on the internet).
When the cicadas begin to die off, their carcasses provide vital soil nutrients. Cicadas can be left where they are to decompose, or can be added to compost or mixed into the upper layers of soil in garden beds. Decomposing cicadas may give off a temporary smell, but your plants will benefit.
To learn more, visit https://cicadacrewumd.weebly.com/, a website maintained by members of the University of Maryland, College Park’s Department of Entomology or the Maryland Department of Agriculture website.
From the City's Committee for a Better Environment. Photo credit (above and cover): Ward Upham, Kansas State University.
Our Misunderstood "Community Cats"
The term “community cat” is used to describe outdoor, unowned, free roaming cats. While many people use the term “feral”, these cats can be friendly and social, living peacefully in a stable “colony” of other cats. Most animal rescues and humane organizations endorse a “Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return, and Monitor” (commonly known as “TNR”) model for humanely managing and controlling community cat colonies. Neutered cats are less of a community nuisance because they don’t spray, fight, and make excessive noise. Years ago, people thought that removing community cats was an effective way of eliminating them however, even if all of them could be removed, new unneutered/unvaccinated cats will move in and begin having kittens. It is easier to manage the existing colonies than to start all over with new ones.
Community cats who have been neutered are recognizable by looking at their ear (usually the left one) that has had the tip taken off during their neuter surgery.
There are many residents of College Park who are committed to helping our community cats by trapping/transporting to low cost neuter clinics, and releasing them back to their colonies. They work to catch young kittens (3 – 4 weeks old) so they can be socialized and adopted into good, inside homes after they are neutered.
If you are interested in getting involved in the care of community cats, some of the area organizations that might be of help include: Alley Cat Allies, Alley Cat Rescue, Laurel Cats, Inc., Beltsville Community Cats, Montgomery County Cat Coalition (MC C3), and Feral Cat Rescue of SoMD.
Studies have shown that with TNR of community cat colonies, the population will not only be controlled, the numbers should begin to decline over time. The “trap, neuter, vaccinate, return, and monitor” really works!
From the City's Animal Welfare Committee
Warm spring weather can cause mosquito larvae to become active, producing adult mosquitoes. The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) will begin applying mosquito larvicide control products to standing water in known breeding areas to prevent development of larvae into biting adult mosquitoes. West Nile and Zika virus are both transmitted by mosquitoes. To help control the mosquito population in your community, remember to tip anything that holds water on a weekly basis (birdbaths, old tires, plastic children’s toys, tarps, pet dishes etc.). The spraying portion of MDAs program is scheduled to start in late May/early June and run through September to identify and control mosquito populations. More information can be found on our website at www.collegeparkmd.gov/pets#mosquito. Request for Exemption from Adult Mosquito Control Services: Any resident who wishes to have his/her property frontage excluded from adult mosquito control pesticide applications by truck-mounted ultra-low volume (ULV) sprayers must fill out this exemption form annually and return it to: Program Supervisor, Mosquito Control Section, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401.
The spotted lanternfly adult is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) in length. The fore wings are greyish-brown with black spots, with the wing tips having a darker, brick-and-mortar pattern. The hind wings are mainly red with black spots, followed by a white band and a black tip. When the spotted lanternfly is at rest, a hint of the red color can be observed through the forewings, but the color is especially noticeable when it is in flight. The body is mainly black, but the abdomen appears to be mostly yellow with black bands going down its length. Spotted lanternfly causes damage to plants in two different ways. The nymphs and adults feed on plants using their piercing mouthparts to suck fluids from the stems or leaves. This has been shown to cause stunted growth, localized damage, reduced yields, and, in extreme cases, even death of the plant. Additionally, as the spotted lanternfly feeds, it excretes a sugary substance called honeydew. This honeydew, in addition to being attractive to ants, wasps, and other insects, is readily colonized by sooty mold, which can cause parts of the plants to become blackened, reducing photosynthesis and affecting the quality of the plants. If you observe any egg masses or insects which look similar to this, please try to collect them, and inform the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5920 or DontBug.MD@maryland.gov as soon as possible. For more information on the spotted lanternfly, click here. The article and photo is credited to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA).