Landscape Alert – Noisy Cicadas

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cicada emerging

An adult cicada emerges from its pupal form. The insect, a type of really large aphid, lives underground as a grub either for one year or for some groups 13 or 17 years. When the time comes the insects emerges as an adult shedding its pupal exoskeleton. These can be seen hanging on trees and other structures.

This summer is going to be noisy! The famous cicada is going to be emerging in incredible numbers in many areas of the eastern US. Emerging in May and disappearing again before July, the insect will be present in the trillions.

There are cicadas that emerge annually. These are the insects we hear whirring in the tops of trees during daylight hours in the summer. Other broods emerge on longer cycles from 13 to 17 years.

Cicadas are harmless to people. However the cicadas loud whirring/chirping sounds can ruin outdoor events on years when two or more ‘broods’ or groups emerge at the same time. This event only happens rarely. This year’s emergence hasn’t happened in 200 years.

Henderson County will not have the apocalyptic numbers that some areas of the country will have. Our local periodic cicada ‘brood’ group last emerged in 2017 so won’t be seen again for a while. Our ‘brood’ is a 17 year cicada which means we won’t see them in large numbers until 2034. But we could have higher than usual numbers making the summer a lit bit noisy! In 2017 we saw lots of branch tip dying as a result of cicada egg laying activities.

usda cicada map

Our 17 year brood VI last emerged in 2017 as indicated in dark red on this USDA map. The big emergence is where the brown and blue areas merge.

cicada damage

Female cicadas lay eggs in gouges they make on tree branches. This often kills the end of the branch.

cicada pupal exoskeleton

Cicada pupal exoskeletons can be found in the summer hanging from trees, barns and other structures.