17-year periodical cicada Magicicada septendecim from Brood II, New Jersey, 2013. Photo credit: Flickr user Dendroica cerulea
That occurrence is the emergence of millions of cicadas within a brief span of time – a specific group known as Brood X.
Brood X spans the largest geographical area of all the periodical cicada broods, with populations due to emerge as far south as Georgia as early as next week, and as far east as Long Island a couple weeks after – or whenever soil temperatures reach 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Almost all of Indiana and Maryland, and at least some portions of Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina wlll experience Brood X.
In Ohio, the largest concentrations are expected in Defiance, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Logan and Montgomery counties.
USA Today has an excellent summary about these cicadas HERE.
Cicada Fast Facts from CicadaSafari.org
Only male cicadas sing.
Adult cicadas do not eat solid food, but they do drink fluids.
Adult cicadas do not sting or bite humans, and they do not carry diseases.
Cicadas are not pests and do not need to be killed, and pesticides are ineffective in controlling them anyway.
The nymphs of periodical cicadas live underground for 13 or 17 years, but the adults only live 4-6 weeks.
Female cicadas can harm young trees when they lay their eggs in the tree’s new growth. If you have a young tree, you can loosely wrap the branches with cheesecloth to keep the female from laying her eggs.
Periodical cicadas are important and very beneficial to the ecology of a region. Their emergence tunnels aerate the soil. The adult cicadas provide a food bonanza to all sorts of other animals. The females’ egg-laying in trees is a natural pruning that results in the tree producing more flowers and fruit in the following year. Finally, after the cicadas die, their decaying bodies return nutrients to the soil.
Periodical cicadas are edible! They taste like cold canned asparagus. Like all insects, cicadas have a good balance of vitamins, are low in fat, and are high in protein. They are best eaten when they have just molted and are still white.
Surprised by that last one? There is no shortage of cicada recipes on the internet!
If you want to learn more, on Thursday April 29 from 7-8pm, tune into a free Zoom webinar hosted by WVXU Cincinnati Public Radio, “What Can We Learn From Cicadas?”. This webinar features Ohio’s own cicada expert, entomologist Dr. Gene Kritsky of Mount St. Joseph University! If you can’t tune in, don’t worry – it will be recorded so you can watch it later. Learn more HERE.
If you have a smartphone, you can help Dr. Kritsky and other scientists track the Brood X emergence and understand these cicadas better by recording your observations with the app Cicada Safari, available through the Apple app store or Google Play.
The Cicada Safari website is loaded with information, resources, and activities about cicadas, and it can be accessed HERE!
Observing the cicada emergence is a great way to get outside this spring and get kids (and adults!) to connect with the natural world. While you’re out looking for cicadas, you can record your observations of the other plants and animals you’ll encounter with iNaturalist and eBird, and contribute to other kinds of community-sourced science projects too!