Will Cicadas Damage My Roof?

The season we have been dreading is now upon us. In the next few weeks, by mid-May, billions of cicadas from brood X will emerge from ground in order to quickly mate, lay new eggs, and die.

After 17 years of feasting on tree sap and growing underground, they will emerge in a horde. They will disrupt our outdoor plans with their loud mating calls and random, seemingly aimless flying. They will leave behind an empty shell and then fly off only to themselves become a corpse days later.

They will fill our driveways, cover our trees, and annoy and frighten many of our neighbors.

But will they hurt our homes?

Here’s a guide to what to look for on your roof.

Will cicadas damage my roof?

As with everything in life, too much of something is likely to be bad. This will prove to be very true with cicadas.

Fortunately, your roof should be fine. However, there are some issues to look out for.

  1. Don’t let cicadas build up on your roof. If large numbers of shells or dead cicadas get wedged behind a chimney or simply pile up in a single spot on your roof, take steps to address it. If they pool there for a day or two before the wind takes them away, that is okay. However, if they stay for any length of time, or are in a space where the wind won’t fix it, you need to remove them. They will allow water to pool, and this will eventually wear down your roof structure and potentially allow leaking. It might also void your roof warranty
  2. Don’t let cicadas build up in your gutters. Your gutters are probably your weakest spot during the cicada invasion. As the corpses pile up, they’ll slow down drainage and provide a bridge from your gutters to your roof edge where moisture can stay and wick into the underlying wood.  Be sure to regularly remove the cicadas from your gutters.

Here are some things you don’t have to worry about.

  1. Cicadas are not going to dig or burrow into your roof. They know very well the difference between your roof and the ground where they want to lay their eggs for the brood that will hatch 17 years from now.  So if you see one on your roof, rest assured they’re just looking for a mate and are as confused as you are about why they are up there. Soon it will fly away. Or it will die.
  2. This isn’t so much about your roof but about you. Cicadas don’t bite. They don’t even eat. They don’t have mouths or stingers. Their only interest is in finding another cicada to make baby cicadas.

This will be a good month to practice preventive maintenance in your gutters and downspouts and to keep cicadas from pulling up in places on your roof.

So every couple of days perform a visual inspection of your roof to make sure no problem spots develop and you will keep your foundation and frame dry through the most recent wave of Brood X.

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