Wondering About Cicadas

I have finally started hearing cicadas. Until now, I’d only heard one every now and then. I began to worry about them with the drought we’re having (14 inches behind), and if the nymphs could even dig out with the ground so hard.

The pictures I’m including here were taken last summer when we had an impressive population of the 13-year cicadas (also called periodical cicadas). Half-inch holes were common too from where the nymphs tunneled out.

 They then climbed up nearby plants, split their skin and emerged.

Shed skins were everywhere.

Periodical cicadas have a black body and red eyes. Annual cicadas, also called dog-day cicadas, are brown, green and white.

The triangle of hackberry, pine and sweet gum trees that surround my spring wildflower garden was where the most emergence occured. They were everywhere! On every plant and in several other areas around the yard too.

There was a whole lot of mating going on.

Periodical cicadas emerge in May through June in Illinois; the dog-day ones emerge July through August. After mating, the female makes a slit in a pencil-size twig and lays her eggs. The eggs hatch 6-10 weeks later.  The tiny cicadas returns to the underground tunnels. Here they feed on roots as they mature until the next mass emergence. In the case of the ones in the pictures that emerged in 2011, they won’t emerge until 2024. So basically, we see only a snippet of their long life.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Therese on August 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Very informative and interesting, as usual!


  2. They good & loud right now in southeastern PA. But I’ve never seen so many together like this. I love that shot of one shedding its skin. Haven’t seen that either!


    • The last time the 13-year ones were out, we couldn’t go to the hills because of the noise. Last year was the first for numbers like that in the yard. It was hard to stay in the house for all the activity in the yard.


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