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The work of female cicadas and their nymphs

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio
Making It Grow, with host Amanda McNulty

Hello, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Female cicadas use their ovipositor, egg laying structure, to make a small incision into a hardwood tree branch, one about the size of a pencil and towards the end of a tree’s limb, and lays an egg there. They continue laying eggs on that same twig before moving on to another. Occasionally, after a huge emergence like the Piedmont of South Carolina will have this year of the thirteen-year egg-laying brood, you’ll see some dead twigs on trees. These cicadas are native to our area and have been coexisting with their ecosystems for eons and eons. They can’t sting or bite you; peoples in parts of the world historically used them as food. The nymphs actually aerate soil as they burrow in and then nature recycles their gazillion dead bodies to add nutrients to the soil.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.