Cicadas: Everything You Need to Know

Wildlife cicadas

Cicadas: Everything You Need to Know

After 17 years underground, over 1 billion Brood X cicadas will begin to emerge across the eastern United States this Spring. So how do you prepare for this upcoming cicada invasion and their loud buzzing? And how will their reappearance affect you? Here’s everything you need to know to prepare for their arrival!

What are Brood X Cicadas

Cicadas are periodical insects, which means that they spend most of their lives underground. In 2004 when Brood X cicadas last emerged, they left behind billions of baby bugs in their wake. These cicadas laid their eggs on tree branches, and when the nymphs hatched they fell to the ground and burrowed deep into the soil. During that time the insects fed on fluids and sucked nutrients from the roots of trees and plants to survive. And now as the temperature begins to rise this spring, they will begin to emerge from the soil they have been inhabiting.

cicadas

When the soil that is located about eight inches below warms to about 64 degrees, these Brood X cicadas will begin to make their way to the surface. And this year, the epicenter of their emergence is right here in Virginia, parts of Maryland, and Washington D.C.

Brood X is one of 15 different broods of periodical cicadas, which just means that there are 15 different groups that emerge from the soil on the same time cycle. Some of these broods operate on a 17 year cycle, Brood X for example, while others operate on a 13 year cycle.

A cicada is a large chunky insect, that has piercing red eyes and is extremely noisy. The males will attract mates by rapidly vibrating a drum-like tymbal that is located on the sides of their abdomen to produce the loud buzzing sound you will be hearing after their arrival. The males will then shed their exoskeletons and attach to branches to mate, and lay eggs before dying off in six or so weeks. The hatched eggs will eventually fall to the ground, starting the cycle all over again.

Frequently Asked Questions: Cicada Edition

Many people don’t actually know much about cicadas, except for they are loud, large, and quite frankly a little annoying. But there is a lot more to these insects than meets the eye.

How can I recognize a cicada?

The periodical Brood X cicadas that are set to emerge typically have black bodies with orange veins running throughout their wings. They also have red beady eyes, six legs, and antennae that are 1 to 2 inches long. Cicadas that emerge annually on the other hand, are black and green.

What do cicadas eat?

While underground, the cicada will feed primarily on the juices and nutrients of tree roots. Once they emerge, they will feed on plant juices which can sometimes cause damage to plants, however this damage is extremely minimal.

cicada isolated

Are cicadas dangerous?

This question is one that gets asked A LOT. And while these insects are extremely loud, they pose little to no threat. Cicadas do not bite or sting, and typically have no interest in finding their way into your home. Instead, these insects prefer to remain outside.

How long is the lifespan of a cicada?

Cicadas will live for a long time underground- Brood X has been underground for the past 17 years- however when above ground, cicadas will only live for a few weeks. Brood X is estimated to be long gone before Labor Day 2021.

How can I recognize the sound a cicada makes?

When in a large group, the sound cicadas make can reach up to 100 decibels. The sound has even been compared to the sound of electricity buzzing. Like we touched on before, these insects use the tymbal that is located on their abdomen to produce this buzzing sound. They produce this sound in order to attract mates.

cicadas

Are cicadas harmful?

When there is a high concentration of cicadas in one area, they can cause cosmetic damage to trees as they lay their eggs. However, these insects actually provide a few benefits to nature after their emergence. Cicadas become a source of food for many different animals including, birds, reptiles, snakes, and some species of spiders. When they are underground, the nymphs construct tunnels for travel and these tunnels help to aerate the soil and help tree roots have better access to nutrients and oxygen.

Where do cicadas live?

When there is a high concentration of cicadas in one area, they can cause cosmetic damage to trees as they lay their eggs. However, these insects actually provide a few benefits to nature after their emergence. Cicadas become a source of food for many different animals including, birds, reptiles, snakes, and some species of spiders. When they are underground, the nymphs construct tunnels for travel and these tunnels help to aerate the soil and help tree roots have better access to nutrients and oxygen.

What do cicadas do?

Because cicadas only live above ground for a few weeks, their primary goal is to mate. Female cicadas will lay about 600 or so eggs while above ground and after 6 to 10 weeks the eggs will hatch and the nymphs will drop to the ground before burrowing into the soil. The cicadas will then feed and develop for the next 13 to 17 years before emerging once again.

So How Do You Stop Cicadas?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is that you can’t. Typical pest control methods do not work to prevent the emergence of cicadas. The best way to avoid these insects is to limit the time you spend outside during the day when the insects are most active. There are however a few things that you can do to prepare.

The best way to handle the upcoming cicada invasion that is looming is by being prepared and informed. Contact our team at Sigma Pest with any questions you may have and for your spring and summer pest control services.

Want to learn more about the cicadas that are coming? Check out this article for more facts about these noisy and annoying insects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *