The Cicadas Are Coming! The Cicadas Are Coming!

By Heidi Stonehill
Jun 6, 2016
Photo by Pixabay


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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.

Two Kinds of Cicadas

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 Don’t Bite

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.

The 2016 Cicadas

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 2016, as far as cicadas go, is that Brood V of the 17-year periodical cicadas (genus Magicicada) is emerging this spring in an area that runs from eastern Ohio to a good part of West Virginia, with appearances also in southwest Pennsylvania, westernmost Maryland, a tiny sliver of northwest Virginia, and a very tiny area on Long Island, New York. If you live where these insects are appearing, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Send us a comment below!

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I live in N.J. we have been hearing them sing,but today my dog came upon ,a mating pair.

Folklore about Cicadas

Hello. We live in northeastern Colorado, Akron to be precise. Today is Tuesday, July 12,2016. It's late afternoon. Guess what? Annual Cicadas are chirping in our neighbors tree. Last year, 2015, July 26th was the first time I heard the Cicada chirping.

dog-day cicadas

Interesting! I first noticed some annual cicadas singing here in southwestern New Hampshire last week (around July 7, 2016). I think they are early here as well. I have a note from 2006 that I first heard them in our area around July 27.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac team

Cicadas and disappearance of birds

Since cicadas have emerged I have seen a huge drop of birds coming to my feeders. I haven't seen cardinal's or grosbeak... And many more. I used to have to fill it on a daily basis. Very strange. Is this normal?

birds and cicadas

Although cicadas are quite a mouthful, they are favorites of many birds that eat insects, including grosbeaks and cardinals. We’re guessing that you haven’t seen as much activity at the feeder because many birds are filling up on cicadas while supplies last. :-)


I've listened to them all my life here in south eastern Oklahoma along with whipper wills and bull frogs. Sounds good really enjoy hearing them. I'm getting old and ears are going bad but I can still hear them. Just have to listen harder. Buck


My daughter missed cicada song after she moved to the West Coast. When she moved back some 10 years later, she said it was a dear, familiar sound to hear them again. I did part of my growing up in rural south-eastern Virginia and we used to collect the shells and play with the cicadas themselves. Harmless and interesting little buggers!

Wizzer Bugs

Growing up we always called these things locusts or wizzer bugs. My husband (an Ohio Yankee) still corrects me and our boys and reminds me they're cicadas lol. Living in SW MO, you can imagine the looks he gets when he corrects us. Thankfully, we've broke him of the habit of tacking an "O" on the front of possum, but, I've lost hope of ever breaking him of his "cicada" habit. We've had several Brooks of periodical locusts hatch here in recent years, and, I will tell you their is no better fish bait out there! I set the kids to collecting them when they first show and we absolutely slay the trout for several days. After a week or two though, even the hungrier fish is begging for something different.

Cicada killing wasps: Last

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

For more information, you might visit:

I do live in the panhandle of

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,

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, this is indeed the noisy

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.

the buzzing is caused by a

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.

This is one of the few

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

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

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

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

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?

I live in NH. I would advise

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.

No, the cicadas do not swarm,

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

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.

As a rider myself, mostly on

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.


I've spent most of my life in Orlando, but have visited relatives in WV since I was born so i've seen cicadas on several of those visits.
Your husband should be fine as the cicadas I've seen tend to stay high in the treetops, only coming down to the ground as they die, and no, they don't swarm.
If your husband likes to fish for large mouth or small mouth bass, brings his fishing rod, and doesn't mind the out of state resident price for a fishing license, cicadas make an excellent fish bait.
As far as any complications from driving into one, i suppose it could leave a big welt at point of impact. He may choose to wear a bandanna around his nose and mouth while in motion and a good pair of safety glasses would be a good idea.


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