The Cicadas are Coming – Are Your Mechanical Systems Protected?


In the spring and summer (Mid May to Mid June or later) 2016 17 Year Periodic Cicada Broods are scheduled to emerge in
many counties in several states. The periodic Cicada is an unusual and widely studied insect that can be
found in many regions of the world. Here in the US there are 23 identified Broods plus a more recently
discovered brood found in OH & KY simply referred to as “Brood OHKY”.
In 2016 Brood V (a 17 year variety) will emerge in counties in MD, NY, OH, PA, VA and WV.  In 2017 Brood
VI (a 17 year variety) will emerge in GA, NC, SC.  In 2018, Brood VII (a 17 yr. variety) will emerge in NY. 

Cicadas Inside Cooling Towercicadas-barnard-585x454
Cicadas Swarming on a Condenser Coil Fan Unit

Impact on Mechanical Systems

Cicadas are harmless to humans, other than being noisy and a nuisance however, it’s a much different story for a buildings mechanical systems including Cooling Towers, Air Handling Units, Rooftop Units and Air Cooled Chillers. Cicadas are attracted to the sound of mechanical equipment and quickly get sucked in – affecting the operation, maintenance and performance of your equipment.

On Cooling Towers, they accumulate in the fill, basin and strainers and can overwhelm the system in as little as a single day –  daily removal is absolutely necessary and an increase in biocides to help keep the cooling water free of bacteria  is commonly required during this period.
On Air Handling Units, they get sucked into the system and will quickly foul internal pre-filters and build-up in the unit. 

On Rooftop units, they get sucked onto the condenser coils and block airflow.


When they’ll emerge depends on the weather. A cool spring will mean the emergences will start later in the spring.  Regardless of the weather, the emergences will begin when the ground temperatures (approx. 8″ below the surface) reach 64 degrees Fahrenheit – sometime in late April or early to mid-May and will continue through Mid-June.  The important thing to know is that when they emerge in your area, they will be a problem for several weeks – so you need to be ready to manage them.


How to Protect Your Equipment

To minimize the impact of Cicadas on your operation, you need to stop the insects from getting into your equipment; Use of air intake filter screens (Cottonwood Filter Screens) is the “best practice” as they stop airborne matter at its point of entry yet have extremely low impact on airflow and static pressure – Under 1/10” w.g. Even after the bug problem is over, Cottonwood Filter Screens will continue to provide many years of service while reducing energy, maintenance, cleaning chemicals, downtime and lost productivity.


Interactive Cicada Map

Brood V (5) 17-year cicadas will emerge in the spring of 2016 in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia

screenshot-gotv cartodb com 2016-04-06 11-22-03

Click on the stories below to see how they
can impact your facility.

13 & 17 Year Periodical Cicada Broods are known to be as large as a BILLION per square mile and are a nuisance for 6-8 weeks.  Cicadas are attracted by the sound of cooling towers and can easily inundate the fill, sump, strainer, piping, pumps and chillers.  

Air intakes of other equipment can also be affected.
Most buildings on campus have cooling towers, which essentially push air over chilled water that is flowing over a series of large vented PVC sheets. As that chilled water is funneled back in to the building, it is sent through a series of screens and filters. The motors on the cooling towers emit a frequency that amounts to a siren’s song for the dying insects.

Teams will be out inspecting all 88 cooling towers across the district. More sub-contractors will be hired to handle the clean-up. Seven crews will be out daily. Each of those crews will be cleaning about eight to ten towers a day.

”Consider the cost of this:
88 cooling towers, 7 crews, 14 people in the field, $80/hour contract labor, 40 day duration = $224,400 or $2,545 / tower to remove the Cicadas and keep the chiller plants operating, otherwise they shutdown.

This is the calculated cost to vacuum and skim the bugs out of the sump, fill and strainers does not include added water treatment, higher water and energy costs or additional maintenance due to high head conditions.  For example a 1° higher condenser water temperature entering a 250 ton chiller operating at .60 kW/ton at 79% load, 16 hrs/day, 214 days/year = 3% inefficient or $1,450/yr.per chiller.

Cicadas Will Overwhelm Everything
in Areas Where They Emerge

The cicadas don’t stay in the trees, grass and shrubs.

They swarm buildings and will inundate cooling towers.
May 24, 2011.

We are a Manufacturer of Externally mounted Air Intake Filters Screens which are commonly called Air Inlet Screens, Intake Filters, Equipment Protection Screens and Bug Screens.   Our products are available through Distributors / Mfgr. Reps., Re-sellers and OEM's - We also work with Engineering Firms to assist in providing customer solutions and in providing specifications for Bid and Spec Projects. Air Solution Company proudly serves its customers throughout North America, The UK and EU Countries.

Air Intake Filters are Manufactured by The Newway Company dba/ Air Solution Company, West Chester, OH 45071
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