The Return of the Cicadas: Colossal Brood of Noisy Insects Invade Area
According to Cicada Mania, the brood that will be seen in our region this year, known as Brood VIII, emerges every 17 years. This particular brood emerges in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and a small portion of the tip of the northern panhandle of West Virginia.
The brood’s last emergence was in 2002.
These cicadas are not the annual cicadas which are green in color and come out each summer.
These inch and a half long brownish insects only emerge every 17 years. They begin underground, as a nymph, where they form cases around themselves and tap into tree roots to feed. They periodically break their cases, five times through their life cycle, and form new ones as they grow before emerging 17 years later.
Once they do emerge, they find a tree or pole to cling to for one final molt and to allow their wings to expand, leaving behind their last pale tan or coppery colored husk.
Brood VIII, which is one of the smaller 17-year broods, includes all three species of 17-year cicadas: Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini, and Magicicada septendecula. Magicicada septendecim have broad orange stripes with more orange than black on their abdomens. Magicicada cassini have black abdomens with virtually no orange at all. Magicicada septendecula have stripes that feature more black than orange.
While cicadas are known for their sounds, each of the three different species has a different song.
Magicicada septendecim’s song is drawn out, going from a higher to a lower pitch, and some say it sounds like the word “Pharaoh.”
Magicicada cassini gives off short bursts of sound followed by rapid clicking noises.
Magicicada septendecula’s call is a much more rhythmic clicking or ticking sound.
The emergence of the brood typically begins in mid to late May and ends in late June. The cicadas begin to emerge when the soil eight inches beneath the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm rain can also trigger their emergence.
According to State Impact Pennsylvania, a reporting project of NPR member stations, Brood VIII is large in terms of the number of cicadas that will make an appearance, with up to 1.5 million insects documented in a single acre previously.
Once they emerge, their calls will become apparent as the males begin calling, seeking mates. The females then make their choices. Then, they begin cutting small circular scars into tree branches to lay their eggs before they die off.
According to The Gardener’s Network, female cicadas lay about 24 eggs at a time, but one female cicada can deposit up to 600 eggs in multiple plants. Then, within about six to ten weeks, the tiny nymphs hatch from the eggs, drop onto the ground, and burrow down into the soil to start the 17-year cycle again.
While their loud calls may be an annoyance to some people, cicadas are essentially harmless. They do not bite or sting and serve as food for many birds, fish, and even other insects.
Nevertheless, they do pose a danger to young saplings and some shrubs, which are more susceptible to destruction from the damage caused by the female cicadas when they lay their eggs. The recommended protection against cicadas for saplings and shrubs is pest netting with a 1/4″ mesh. The pest netting needs to be wrapped completely around the tree and tied or sealed off to keep any insects from finding an entryway.
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