So you thought 2020 was the year of the pest because of murder hornets? Well, we hate to break it to you, but you were wrong. There are plenty more pests on the horizon of 2021 - even some zombies.
Do you remember the craze around murder hornets in 2020? It’s okay if you forgot; there was plenty of other catastrophic moments to consume your mind for the year. But for a brief moment in time, murder hornets seemed to be the only thing anyone could talk about.
Murder hornets, also referred to as Asian giant hornets, made a splash in May of 2020 when they were spotted on US soil for the first time, making their grand entrance in the state of Washington. One of their character-defining features is that they kill other bees, and they do so in a horrifying fashion by decapitating them. That’s actually how scientists knew we had a case of murder hornets - because they were frequently finding headless bees.
They also grow up to two inches long, and if they’re able to sting someone enough, they can kill a human. While they lost their spotlight to other mainstage events, they stuck around in the US for the rest of the year, up until winter.
The real showstopper this year is the cicadas. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, you’d probably recognize them if you heard their sound. There is an annual breed of cicada that you’ll commonly see and hear flying around every summer called a green cicada. While they are still annoying, they’re nothing to worry about. A few other species, on the other hand, could cause some trouble.
One type is called a zombie cicada. This refers to a cicada that has been inhabited by a psychedelic fungus called Massospora. This fungus turns the cicadas into unthinking, reproducing crazed zombie cicadas. Essentially, the fungus burrows into the cicada through an orifice and takes over the body, eating away at healthy tissue while replacing it with fungus. As the fungus gains control, the cicada gets the uncontrollable desire to mate, which causes the fungus to spread to other cicadas.
Luckily, this type of fungus and cicada only seems to inhabit West Virginia, so Michigan and Ohio residents should be in the clear.
Periodical cicadas are interesting bugs. Their lives are made up of a five to six-week life span above ground, and during that time, they swarm, lay eggs in the ground, and are eventually killed by a predator. Those eggs that they laid while they were above ground will eventually hatch and then stay underground for either 13 or 17 years, depending on the species. There are seven recognized species —three 17-year species and four 13-year species.
And guess what? In 2021, Brood X, a mass of 17 year cicadas, is scheduled to emerge from their burrows all throughout the Eastern United States - for the first time since 2004.
They’ll start to emerge when the soil 8 inches below the surface reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The last time they emerged, people began reporting them around mid-May, but it could start in late April if it’s warm enough. When they do make their appearance, we can expect to see billions of them at a time. Their evolution abides by the philosophy of “safety in numbers,” and it works; when they first emerge, there are far too many of them for predators to successfully attack with any force. It’s only after they’ve thinned out enough that they really get killed off.
Are you ready to prepare for the swarm of cicadas and other pests that are coming this spring and summer? Contact our team today for all the help you need. Either visit our website or call us at for more information about our services!