The Cicadas Are Coming!

Periodical cicadas emerge in large numbers.

This spring and summer, billions of cicadas will crawl out of the ground. Some cicadas come out every year, but this year is different. Two groups will emerge at the same time. One group has been underground for 13 years. The other group has been underground for 17 years. The result is expected to be very noisy!

Cicadas are insects that go through incomplete metamorphosis. This is a life cycle in which an animal goes through three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Adults lay eggs. The eggs hatch. Then nymphs burrow into the soil. They spend their nymph stage underground. After a period of time, adults emerge to mate.

Annual cicadas spend two years in the nymph stage. These cicadas emerge every year. The cicadas that make the news are periodical cicadas. They spend either 13 or 17 years in the nymph stage. Then they emerge in large numbers all at once. This year, periodical cicadas will emerge across parts of the Midwest and Southeast.

If you live in an area where this is happening, expect to start seeing and hearing them between late April and late June. When it happens, it will be loud. Males make a high-pitched buzz to attract mates. The sound can be as loud as a chain saw!

What Do You Think? Have you observed any cicadas this summer?

Photo Credit: Mary Bieniak