I’m so excited! We have one year; mark your calendars! Mid – late May of 2016: Cicada Invasion!
Think back to the summer of 1999 and again, back to 1982. Early summer of those years in much of Ohio was defined by the huge buzzing clumsy insects that emerged from their 17 years of immaturity for a few weeks of noise and making more of themselves. 2016 will be our year!
Every year in the heat of summer, mostly in July, dog day or annual cicadas emerge. You’ll find the empty shells of the juveniles stuck to tree trunks, swing sets and other vertical surfaces. The adults are dark green and black and live mostly in the trees. The species we hear most often has a ch-ch-ch-ch-ch rattle like call. It’s the soundtrack of hot summer days.
But you’ll notice some differences next year with the periodical or 17-year cicada emergence. Mid to late May the juveniles will begin to emerge, especially from older wood lots. Remember the trees had to be big enough for adults to lay eggs in 17 years ago. But you won’t see just one on a tree. You might see dozens. While large and crawly, these critters are quite harmless to humans. They remind me of dump trucks as they crawl clumsily through the grass to find a tree trunk to hang on while they shed their outer youth skin. The adults are creamy colored as they first emerge and wait for their wings to dry.
17-year cicada nymphs on a tree.
Photo by Sharon Hosko
17-year cicada emerging from it's juvenile shell.
When the adults have dried out and stretched their wings they are black with red eyes and yellow veining in their wings. While they look slightly menacing or like they could appear in Star Wars, they are as harmless to us as they were in their youth. The worst thing they could do to you is fly into you and give you a startle or the males, the only ones who make noise, could surprise you by buzzing in your hand if you picked them up. They don’t bite or sting. They are really just interested in finding each other and laying eggs to continue the cycle in 17 more years.
Adult 17-year cicadas
Photo by Sharon Hosko
Adult 17-year cicdas are harmless to humans
Why do we only see them every 17 years? Where have they been? Why are there so many of them (oh my goodness, there be a lot of them!)? Do you need to worry if your dog eats them? What about delicate landscaping? I’ll leave these questions and more for a date closer to the emergence. I certainly won’t be able to contain my excitement to only one blog entry about this big-bug-extravaganza!
Let the countdown begin!