They’re back!!! The annual emergence of cicadas is on the horizon and this year will be a big year! Cicadas are an annually occurring insect and most people are familiar with their mid- to late-summer mating songs. There’s been a bit of hype this year about the size of the emerging brood, no rx that the “East Coast will be snowed under with Cicadas”, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Like most insects, Cicadas spend the overwhelming majority of their lives in an immature stage, some cicada broods will remain as larvae for 13 to 17 years and only live as adults for a few weeks. Different types of cicadas will have different maturation ages and researchers have noticed that the longer cycle cicadas (more than a few years) tend to emerge years later and the length is often a prime number. (A prime number is a number that can only be divided by one and itself, like 3, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 17) Entomologists feel that this “prime number year” emergence is an evolutionary tactic to thwart predators and thus far has been effective.
This year, we have some of our longest cycle cicadas emerging, the 17 Year Cicadas, or “Brood 11″. We can expect a little louder than usual buzzing at night, but that’s about it. Cicadas haven’t attained pest status due to their extremely long life-cycle, relatively low reproductive rate and limited damage they incur. Cicadas feed on the root systems of trees and when populations get very high, some trees might be affected, but as they do not infest structures or attack human food sources, they’ve been off the radar. So don’t sweat it!
Enjoy your summer, and don’t be concerned about your insect neighbors making some love music, they may be big and scary looking but that’s about it. Interested in learning more about cicadas? Find some very cool facts here!