March 30, 2021 3 min read
Spring 2021 kicks-off the buzz-worthy arrival of Brood X, the 17-year cicadas, close cousins to aphids and leaf hoppers. Noisy, googly-eyed and totally harmless, these winged backyard invaders will emerge from the ground to get their groove on as early as late-April. Here are some fun facts:
1. One of the wildest nature shows right in your backyard.
Once the ground temperature hits 64° F the birthday party begins. When these babies turn 17 they emerge from the ground for their day in the sun. They’ll be hard to miss, crawling up trees and anything else they mistake for one—singing at over 90 decibels. These winged buzzers are here for one thing and one thing only, courting, then getting it on before they kick the bucket. The cringeworthy next generation will hatch as nymphs then head underground to nosh on tree roots until 2038.
2. Call me Magicicada.
Otherwise known as broods, periodical cicadas or 17-year cicadas, they consist of 12 species found mostly in the mid-west, northern and eastern United States. This is truly a phenomenal spectacle—the epicenter of a happening that takes place nowhere else on the planet. Lucky us!
Source: Jeremy Jackson, The Baltimore Sun
3. Coming to a state or county near you.
They are estimated to emerge in the billions, maybe even trillions, in 15 states and 200 counties across the U.S. If you’re in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia, you’re in for a rare treat.
Source: USDA Forestry Service
4. 17-year cicadas are A-listers
Known for making an entrance, these party-crashers have made appearances in the tabloids, with Tiger at the nationally televised Memorial golf tournament in Dublin, Ohio, and on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. They’re mentioned in the ancient Greek poems (Homer’s“Iliad”), grace fine art from the Han and Shang Dynasty, drowned out President Roosevelt’s address at Arlington Cemetery in 1904, and Bob Dylan even dedicated a song in the ‘70’s, “The Locusts Sang for Me”.
Cicada bobblehead, Cincinnati, OH
5. Cicada anyone?
Considered a 17-year delicacy by the wild life that gorges on them and more adventurous humans, these tasty morsels aren’t for the feint of heart—cicadas are served up deep-fried, marinated, covered in chocolate, served as sushi, powdered, grilled, and even sauteed with a little garlic, butter and basil.
Cicada sushi. Source: ChicagoReader.com
6. What’s your sign?
Humans whistle or cat call. Cicadas flirt differently, they click. Many clicks produce a buzz—a deafening buzz, as loud as a lawnmower or dirt bike, that builds in waves as they try to drown one another out. Cicada songs have been likened to drones, “the whining of electrical wires rising and falling” or like “someone pressing scissors against a grind wheel in rapid succession”. Even so they have unique mating calls. Some cicadas have a much higher-pitched song, others a lower-pitch. Listen now…
Source: Mark Parisi, offthemark.com
7. Cicadas are attracted to noise and bright lights.
Good luck mowing the yard or weed-whacking. As much of a noise-nuisance as they are, cicadas don’t like being outdone. It’s most likely they’ll think your outdoor tools deliver a particularly impressive tone in their cicada chorus. Males will want to join in and females may find the tool’s buzz way more impressive than their mister’s. Don’t sweat it, they mean you no harm. One easy way to call a truce… pop open and slip on a WalkingPod™ Mesh before you head outside to run errands or trim the hedge.
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