Will Cicadas Sing the Song of Their People in 2021?

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cicada damage on oaks

Cicada female cuts the bark near the end of branches to create a place to lay her eggs. This in turn causes the ends of the branches to die.

You may have heard in the news about the 17-year’ periodical cicada’ Brood X that will be making noise in certain areas of the country. That is true. In places like Washington DC, north Georgia, east Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio the noisy insects will create a noise as loud as a lawnmower, ruining outdoor events and disturbing patio sitters.

Will we see these noisome insects in western North Carolina in numbers high enough to ruin outdoor events? Luckily, no. Our 17-year ‘periodical cicadas’ are part of Brood VI which is not due to emerge until 2034. Will we hear cicadas this year? Yes, some cicadas emerge each year. The ones that emerge every year are called the ‘dog day’ or  ‘annual cicadas’. You can differentiate them from ‘periodical cicadas’ because the ‘periodical cicadas’ have distinct red-orange eyes and annual cicadas have dark eyes and green to brown bodies.

cicada killer nest cicada killer waspEach year I get questions about huge wasps living in holes in the ground near homes. The ‘cicada killer wasp’ hunts cicadas. It stings and then captures the cicada and hauls them back to the wasp nest in the ground. Cicada killer wasps are solitary insects and generally do not sting people.

Cicadas spend 13 or 17 years underground as larvae feeding on tree cicadasroots. They emerge as a group on certain years usually May-July. The adults only live about 4-6 weeks. The adults mate and the females lay eggs in slits they cut into tree branches. Larvae hatch and eventually make it to the ground where they will burrow and begin the 13 or 17-year cycle again.

cicada map

Written By

Steve Pettis, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionSteve Pettis, Jr.Extension Agent, Agriculture - Consumer and Commercial Horticulture Call Steve Email Steve N.C. Cooperative Extension, Henderson County Center
Updated on Apr 21, 2021
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