Do you remember the 1998 Cicada Brood? Because they’re back! These locus-like creatures have been biding their time for thirteen years underground. Little nymphs have crawled out of the ground affixed themselves to branches and leaves like caterpillars going into a cacoon. It’s not a cacoon that comes out of the nymph but a cicada, leaving its brownish exoskeleton behind.
Those who study the cicada’s closely call the newly emerged cicada, teneral; the being (pictured) that is emerging from the exoskeleton. Teneral simply means soft in Latin, the skin of a teneral will harden and become a cicada.
Whats remarkable about the cicada is that it only emerges every thirteen years to mate before going back underground for another thirteen years.
If you see holes the size of your finger in a cluster on the ground you might be looking at a scene where nymphs have emerged. You can see these emergance holes in the picture to the right.
The Cicada has a life span of 13-17 years which explains the timing of it’s emergance. While underground the cicada feeds off of root juices and digs using its hind legs. Unfortunatly the cicada’s you may see in North America now will soon be gone for good (dead). But a new gerneration will emerge from the dirt again in 2024, what the living, above ground cicada’s are doing now is mating as fast as they can. Females will leave eggs in cuts they make into trees, these eggs will hatch nymphs who will fall to the ground and burrow their way down.
You will hear them before you see them, the cicada’s are very loud during there above-ground mating season. The males will call to the females, and their calls can reach 120 decibles.
Right now South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Arkasas are seeing a lot of these red-eyed, inch-long, insects. Cicada’s are harmless, just annoying.
ABC news gave a nice list of things to know about cicada’s:
- First, they are not locusts. They are a completely different species. Locusts are more akin to grasshoppers.
- They do not bite or sting. And they are not attracted to humans, despite the fact that they may fly into you as they are buzzing around.
- There are two different cicada cycles; a 13-year cycle and a 17-year cycle. Cicadas of the latter variety are generally found in the northern United States.
- While they arrive every 13 or 17 years, that doesn’t mean they won’t be seen in a particular state again before then. (They made news in the Midwest in 2007.) That’s because within the species there are different broods, each with a different timeline. Hence, the next emergence of cicadas in Tennessee, Brood XXIII, will happen in 2015. That brood will mostly be isolated to the western part of the state.
- Cicadas usually arrive in early May, after surviving underground by feeding on tree roots. They emerge from the ground when the soil temperature where they live reaches 67 degrees. Four or five days later, the males begin their “chorus” and mating begins.
- The females then begin laying eggs in the limbs of smaller trees, as many as 400 to 600 eggs at a time. After six to seven weeks the eggs hatch and the “nymphs,” as they are called, drop to the ground and burrow into the soil where they remain for 13 to 17 years.
- It is the laying of eggs that poses a danger to small flowering and fruit trees. A female can make five to 20 slits in one branch to deposit her eggs. That causes the branch eventually to wilt and die.
- But there is a way to protect these trees. Hale recommends wrapping small trees in an airy cloth, like cheesecloth, and securing it around the trunk. This should be done when the first cicadas are emerging, and left on until they are gone. If a tree is not protected and is damaged, Hale suggests pruning only the dead branches, leaving as many branches on the tree as possible.
- The time from emergence to death is approximately four to five weeks. After that the cicadas die en masse. It’s not uncommon to find hundreds of dead cicadas piled up under trees in early June.