Cicada Flagging and Chat Upates, July 2, 2013

Cicada Flagging

Example of Cicada Flagging, Morris Twp., NJ, July 2, 2013 (photo by Jonathan Klizas).

Example of Cicada Flagging, Morris Twp., NJ, July 2, 2013 (photo by Jonathan Klizas).

(Click on the photo for a larger image).

As in the above picture, you may have noticed the browning, or flagging, of leaves on trees while travelling through Morris, Mendham, Bernards, and Warren Townships or anywhere the Brood II Cicadas have emerged en masse. The following explanation of  flagging is courtesy of

“Cicadas begin life as a rice-shaped egg, which the female deposits in a groove she makes in a tree limb, using her ovipositor. The groove provides shelter and exposes the tree fluids, which the young cicadas feed on. These grooves can kill small branches. When the branches die and leaves turn brown, it is called flagging.
Once the egg hatches the cicada begins to feed on the tree fluids. At this point it looks like a termite or small white ant. Once the young cicada is ready, it crawls from the groove and falls to the ground where it will dig until it finds roots to feed on. Once roots are found the cicada will stay underground from 2 to 17 years depending on the species.”

Also, from
Question: Will the cicadas kill my trees, shrubs and flowers?
Answer: Possibly. Especially if your plant is pathetic and weak. Cicadas don’t kill flowers and shouldn’t damage shrubs, but they can do damage to young, wimpy trees like ornamentals.

Cicadas don’t cause damage to trees by chewing leaves like other insects to. Instead the damage is caused because they lay their eggs in grooves in the branches of trees. Cicadas are technically parasites of the trees, and they need the trees to survive throughout their entire life cycle, so killing trees is not in the cicadas best interest.

The weakest limbs of a tree are often temporarily damaged or killed off, the result of which is called flagging, as the leaves of the branch will turn brown and look like a flag. They are doing the trees a favor by pruning their weakest branches.

Young trees, ornamental trees and fruit trees will be more prone to damage as they are typically smaller and weaker than older native hardwood trees.”

Obviously, it is too late to protect weaker trees, so, save this information for 2030.

Chat Update

The Morris Township Yellow-breasted Chat (YBCH) was vocalizing this morning. It was loud enough to be heard from the west path, the path along Washington Valley Road, and the paved path.

The Great Swamp YBCH was heard yesterday, July 1 and continues southeast of the intersection of White Bridge Rd. and Pleasant Plains Rd.


The plant pictured below was a mystery to me when I found it this morning. It was under a group of White Oaks along the Rock-a-bye Railroad section of Patriots’ Path in Morris Township. Thanks to Wade Wander and Tom Halliwell for explaining it. It is Squawroot (Conopholis americana), a parasite of tree roots. These Squawroots are past flowering and are displaying their developing seed capsules.

Squawroot, Morris Twp., NJ, July 2, 2013 (photo by Jonathan Klizas).

Squawroot, Morris Twp., NJ, July 2, 2013 (photo by Jonathan Klizas).

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1 Response to Cicada Flagging and Chat Upates, July 2, 2013

  1. Jennifer Books says:

    Thanks for sharing the info on that interesting plant and cicada flagging! can also report flagging on the website

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