Cicadas may be to blame for brown tree leaves

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — If you’ve noticed brown patches on trees, it may not be the result of a long, hot, dry spell. Rather, it could be the work of those noisy cicadas whose population exploded in parts of Missouri earlier this year.

The Department of Conservation says patches of wilted, brown leaves scattered through trees can be the result of the 13-year periodical cicadas that emerged in May and June. The department says female cicadas slice into the underside of twigs and deposit eggs there. The weakened twigs can be broken by the wind, causing bunches of leaves to dangle or fall.

The department says that similar problems also have been noted in southwestern Missouri as a result of insects called “Kermes scales.” Those small sap-feeding bugs primarily damage oak trees.

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