But there is a way to protect these trees. Hale recommends wrapping small trees in an airy cloth, like cheesecloth, and securing it around the trunk. This should be done when the first cicadas are emerging, and left on until they are gone. If a tree is not protected and is damaged, Hale suggests pruning only the dead branches, leaving as many branches on the tree as possible.
The time from emergence to death is approximately four to five weeks. After that the cicadas die en masse. It's not uncommon to find hundreds of dead cicadas piled up under trees in early June.
When they die and decompose, the nitrogen in their bodies fertilizes the soil. "So in a way, it's sort of a plus for the forests to have them because they get a fertilization they wouldn't otherwise get," said Hale.