Sep102013

"Cicadas…They’re Back!!!"

Has it been 17 years already?

When I go outside I hear the strangest humming noise and these huge insects are all over my front porch…some alive and moving slowly…others dead…what are they?   

cicadaDon't fret…these insects are just Cicadas which emerge every 17 years in the United State to mate.  Here are answers to some common questions:

1. Are cicadas locusts?

No…many people mistakenly call cicadas locusts.  Although cicadas and locusts are both insects, they are completely unrelated.  Locusts are closely related to grasshoppers and are a severe agricultural pest in some regions of the world.

2. I see these little holes all over my yard, do cicadas lay their eggs in the soil?

No..female cicadas use their sharp ovipositor to slice into live twigs high up in trees. Once the eggs hatch, the tiny cicada nymphs fall from the tree to the ground where they burrow into the soil to feed on roots.  

3. Well then…are the cicadas hibernating for 17 years?

No… During their time underground cicada nymphs are burrowing, growing (slowly) and feeding on juices from the tree roots.

4. Do cicadas harm trees?

Typically, cicadas cause no harm to the trees on which they are feeding.  In fact, only very young trees may be harmed by female cicadas when large populations lay eggs in young branches.

5. Does it really take 17 years for a cicada to develop?

Some periodical cicadas take 13 years to develop, while other cicada species only take one year. These so-called annual cicadas are typically larger than the 13 or 17 year species and emerge later during the dog days of summer, earning one species the moniker "dog-day" cicada!

6. Do cicadas spend most of their lives underground?

Yes…even annual cicadas spend the majority of their lives in the nymphal stage, underground, feeding on roots.

7. Do all cicadas sing…or hum?

Male cicadas "sing" to find aggregations or "choruses" of other males, and then sing to attract a mate.  Each cicada species has a distinct "song" and experts can identify what species is present just by listening.

8. Is there a way to prevent cicadas from emerging in my yard?

Short of cutting down the trees and paving your backyard, there's no good way to keep cicadas from emerging.  Periodical cicadas will begin to emerge when soil temperatures reach 64 degrees Fahrenheit, usually in April or May in most areas in the country.