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The Cicadas Are Coming! The Cicadas Are Coming!

May 9, 2013

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Cicadas do not have red coats like the colonial British soldiers had, but many sport red eyes and appear in large numbers.

These large flying insects with broad heads and clear wings are often mistaken for locusts, but are more closely related to treehoppers and lack the large hind legs found in the majority of grasshoppers and locusts.

Cicadas are grouped into two main types. The “nonperiodical” or “annual” type are found in many parts of North America and hang around each year in small numbers because they do not all mature at the same time. A species called the dog-day cicada starts singing during the Dog Days of summer (July 3—August 11), the hottest and most unhealthy days of the year.

Periodical cicadas, on the other hand, are found in the eastern half of North America and mostly mature together as adults during a multiyear cycle. Juvenile cicadas spend their time underground, sipping root juices; after 13 or 17 years (depending on brood), thousands of these nymphs come out of the ground (usually at night) and climb trees and shrubs to molt into adults. (You can sometimes find the shed skin of a cicada nymph clinging to a tree trunk.) After a few days, male cicadas start singing loudly in daytime choruses to impress their female counterparts. After mating, lady cicadas will lay eggs in bark or twigs or in the stems of weeds and grasses. When the eggs hatch in midsummer, the nymphs will drop to the ground and burrow into the soil. They’ll spend many years underground as they develop.

Cicadas do not sting or bite (unless they mistake you for plant food), although the sheer numbers of adults can be a nuisance. The females may damage trees and shrubs as they lay their eggs in slits they make in twigs. Although damage to older plants usually isn’t severe, young trees and shrubs may be in jeopardy if many of the insects suck plant juices from the same plant. If you expect an emergence, it’s best to cover young woody plants with screening material, such as mosquito netting, beforehand. Adult cicadas will be evident for about 5 or 6 weeks; by the time the nymphs hatch, most adults will have died.

There are about twelve 17-year broods and three 13-year broods of periodical cicadas, each with different ranges, although the regions may overlap. The big news for 2013, as far as cicadas go, is that Brood II of the 17-year periodical cicadas (genus Magicicada) is emerging this spring in an area that runs from parts of northern Georgia on up to northern New York State. If you live where these insects are appearing, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Send us a comment below!

Heidi Stonehill, our Senior Editor, joined the team in 2001. She enjoys the natural sciences, gardening, music, art, poetry, and animals—especially her fuzzy feline, Joey.


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Cicada killing wasps: Last

By suremajic

Cicada killing wasps: Last summer I noticed two huge long wasp like insects hanging on to my Lilac bush. I looked it up and was a Cicada killing wasp. Never seen them around my place before. They hung around all summer till fall.

Grandmaw, you're right on. I

By equayonv

Grandmaw, you're right on. I too was raised in Georgia, the Mountains in fact. When a child, we use to play with them before and after they shed their shells. They are harmless. As for the Biker, I'm one also and have been practically all of my life and have never known of anyone being hit by one. They are extremely docile and usually only fly from one local tree to another closely to where they emerge from where they shed their shells. Yes, when the Periodical emergence times come about, they can be very noticable. To me it is one of God's many beautiful musics. Sit back, relax, enjoy and be astounded.

I don't understand all the

By Grandmaw

I don't understand all the concern about these insects. I was raised in Georgia and we had lots of them. They just sit in the trees and sing. I thought the song was beautiful as were the beautiful insects. They don't come in your house and don't bother anyone.

Interesting! I live in

By potsonna2

Interesting! I live in Tennessee and the Cicadas caused alot of noise for me. I also hope that everyone had a nice weekend,is having a good week and has another good weekend. I also hope that they had a happy Mother's Day!

We live in central florida

By Marie Post

We live in central florida close to the St. Johns river and heard the them just the other night. I have also found the shed skin of some.

I've heard 2 contrary reports

By mmcgr

I've heard 2 contrary reports one stating cicadas are coming by the 'billions to the northeast states and one saying we will not be affected. I live in Central Long Island, New York. Can you clarify if they are coming?

There seems to be a report of

By Almanac Staff

There seems to be a report of Brood II appearing in Suffolk county of Long Island in a previous emergence. It is possible that they might show again, but our guess is that it wouldn't be in the large numbers that they potentially may appear in elsewhere in eastern New York state. Long Island is not expected to see much activity, if any.

I live in Indiana and was

By Imma Magiccat

I live in Indiana and was wondering if we are in part of the region where they will emerge this year? I know we do have a few every year as I see their shells on trees from time to time.

Brood II is not expected to

By Almanac Staff

Brood II is not expected to appear in Indiana. The shells you see might be from the annual cicadas, which come out in much smaller numbers each year.

Of the 17-year periodical cicadas, Brood X (next expected emergence: 2021) and Brood XIII (next expected emergence: 2024), and Brood XIV (next expected emergence: 2025) have been known to appear in Indiana.

Of the 13-year periodical cicadas, Brood XIX (next expected emergence: 2024) and Brood XXIII (next expected emergence: 2015) have appeared in Indiana.

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I do live in the panhandle of

By Travellady56

I do live in the panhandle of FL, and we have always had them here..They are not bothersome, we see their shells occassionally.

Hi. I live in Glen Burnie,

By Joyce Hawes

Hi. I live in Glen Burnie, Maryland and I was wondering if we will get them here? Will they come inside of the house? If so how can we protect where we live? Is taping the windows help to keep them outside? Please help.

Looking at the map of where

By Almanac Staff

Looking at the map of where Brood II has appeared in previous years, it does look like it is possible that they'll be in your area. See:


However, they are not harmful to humans, they do not bite or chase, and would not be interested in coming in the house. It might be possible that one would stray inside, but they prefer to be in the trees. If they do appear, you should check your heating/air conditioning/ventilation systems outside to make sure filters are clear. Keep pets from eating too many insects (dogs have been known to eat too many and get digestive troubles). Avoid opening pools for the season if you can, or at least keep them clean; cover fish ponds with screens.

Hope this helps!

I love cicadas! I grew up in

By c gutierrez

I love cicadas! I grew up in a house that did not have air conditioning and we had the windows open all summer. We had cicadas every summer and their sound is very comforting to me. Now when I drive somewhere in the summer I roll down the windows so I can hear them. It's music to my ears. I love the crescendo of the sound.

I grew up in Texas and we had

By ladymc

I grew up in Texas and we had locusts every summer and I love the sound! I lived in Arkansas for 18 yrs. and never heard them and when we moved back to Texas that's one of the things I looked forward to hearing - that and a particular bird call. However, that said, I didn't hear any last summer and I wonder why?

Is this the bug that makes

By living in LindenMI

Is this the bug that makes the "buzzing" noise in late summer-fall? my dad used to say that as soon as you heard that buzzing we had 6 weeks to the first frost

the buzzing is caused by a

By Gray Buffalo

the buzzing is caused by a cicada, commonly known in the South as a jarfly, but not these particular cicada that are emerging. the ones that your Dad referred as a warning for frost in six weeks is what we call a katydid. its greenish in color and looks nothing like a cicada. btw, i live in East Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mtns.

Yes, this is indeed the noisy

By Bklyncowgirl

Yes, this is indeed the noisy bug you hear buzzing in the trees during daylight hours. When we were kids we called them "heat bugs" because we believed that if you heard them early in the morning it would be an uncomfortably hot day. I think your dad may be confusing the daytime singing cicadas with night singing katydids as far as predicting the first frost. Katydids usually start "singing" at night in late July and sound totally different. People have said that when you hear the first katydid, that long-legged, bright green member of the grasshopper family,the first frost will arrive in 6 weeks, 10 weeks, or up to 90 days depending on which story you believe. So you're pretty sure to be correct somewhere down the line.

This is one of the few

By Scaredy cat

This is one of the few natural things that freak me out. Guess I'll be spending a lot of time in t he house after emergence

I live in the Pittsburgh PA

By Pittsburgher

I live in the Pittsburgh PA area. And YES if he is riding a motorcycle he needs to be very careful. Just my opinion, but he should wear a leather jacket, helmet and eye protection, and prepare to get hit a few times probably.

I fear the stink bugs and the

By Michael@AM1450

I fear the stink bugs and the cicadas will create a pact to overwhelm us this year....beware all entomophobiacs

Last year I was able to catch

By bluemooner

Last year I was able to catch some photo's of a cicada morphinging out of it's shell. Awesome! I never realized that they are a beautiful bright turquoise color. :~)

We live in Florida and don't

By anoninfla

We live in Florida and don't have these, but my husband will be riding a motorcycle to eastern Tennessee later this month. Is this something that he would be concerned with? This looks like an awfully big bug to hit a windshield (or face!). Do they swarm? Are they similar to our love bugs?

As a rider myself, mostly on

By Wildphotos

As a rider myself, mostly on the East Coast, it is always best for riders to wear protective gear. Most states have helment laws now. I have been hit by many bugs (and gravel from other vehicles) but no serious injuries. The show "MythBusters" did a segment on bugs hitting motorcyclists.. Even the biggest bug they could find did minimal damage. Still the most dangerous thing to a motorcycle is other drivers (and the heat!) Have a great ride.

No, the cicadas do not swarm,

By Min

No, the cicadas do not swarm, and are nothing like the Florida love bugs. You can easily miss ever seeing one, but they can be deafening to listen to. One is more likely to simply find the skins left behind, still clinging to the sides of trees. Around the trunks of pine trees is where I have usually found them in the past.

Almost forgot, but yes, they

By Min

Almost forgot, but yes, they would pack a pretty good wallop if hit while riding motorcycles so protection is recommended. Of course, protection is recommended with or without the bug issue.

I live in NH. I would advise

By Summerheaf

I live in NH.
I would advise your mate to keep an eye on the progress of the insects. A bigger concern might be the sheddings and insect corpses lying about. One year the Gypsy moths were so bad around here the snowplows were out in order to clear the roads for safe travel. Needless to say, there were no motorbikes out for a number of weeks.

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