Ah, the sounds of summer. Waves crashing on the beach, lawn sprinklers spinning like crazy, ice cream truck bells… and the constant sound of cicadas. If you live in certain states, get ready because it's coming back in 2024.
Cicadas, particularly loud winged insects, have strange life cycles. Although they grow underground, it is when they appear in the above-ground world that we humans primarily pay attention to them.
There are annual cicadas that emerge from their underground life at different times each year. Then there are periodic cicadas that only appear every 13 or 17 years. These groups are called sibs and are numbered. These regular cicada companions tend to steal all the headlines from the annual cicada companions because they can track their schedules.
This summer is the year of second infusion. That's rare. The last time it happened was in 1803, according to ScienceAlert. One chick with a 13-year cycle (called Brood XIX) and another chick with a 17-year cycle (called Brood XIII) are expected to emerge. On the ground in 2024.
Here's what you need to know before cicadas take over your neighborhood from May to June, including how to protect your hearing from their cicada calls and whether climate change is to blame for disrupting their cicada cycles.
What to expect in 2024
The XIX chick, also known as the Great Southern Cicada, is the largest chick of the 13-year cicada in terms of geographic distribution. It was last seen in 2011 in the southeastern United States. Most cycle cicadas have a 17-year cycle, but Brood XIX has a 13-year cycle. The remaining two 2013 offspring are scheduled to return in 2027 and 2028.
The chicks are expected to re-emerge in mid-May and stay until late June. Cicadas tunnel to the surface, mate, lay eggs, and then die. Look (and listen) in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Brood XIII is known as the Northern Illinois Brood. (Illinois appears to be more attracted to cicadas than any other state.) Experts at the University of Connecticut say that Lincoln's land has “both 13-year and 17-year life cycles, and currently recognized “This includes all seven species and five separate nestlings, including some cicadas. This includes isolated populations.” Talk about big noise.
This is one of 17 cicada chicks. Last seen in 2007, he should reappear from mid-May to late June, similar to Brood XIX. They are expected to appear in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin and possibly Michigan.
Basic knowledge of cicadas
According to the EPA, cicadas are about 1 to 1.5 inches long, with a wingspan twice that long. They have black bodies, reddish-brown eyes, and membranous wings with orange veins. The noise that makes them famous is the loud courtship sounds of adult males.
This kind of name is pronounced differently in the United States, where most people say “suh-KEI-duh,” and in the United Kingdom, where most people tend to say “suh-KAA-dah.”
What should I do with the cicadas?
It doesn't matter whether you are alive or not. They are temporary and harmless. Cicadas may be noisy, but they don't bite or sting. Also, unlike termites, they do not gnaw into your home, although they can enter through open doors and windows like other insects. In fact, pest control experts say insecticides don't work on cicadas.
One expert told CNET in 2021, “It's a waste[of pesticides]and just spraying them because you're scared of cicadas poses a danger to the environment.”
How can you suppress the sound of cicadas?
The main problem with cicadas is obvious. It's a constant buzzing sound. However, since this sound is only around for six weeks, experts have some ideas on how to stop it from causing discomfort.
These are not cicada-specific treatments, but they are effective. You can try noise-cancelling headphones, a white noise machine, or simple earplugs. You can also try his DIY soundproofing methods, such as weatherstripping foam tape.
Climate change and cicadas
Climate change is causing global temperatures to rise, but cicadas aren't moving according to a calendar; they're responding to temperatures. It's no wonder, then, that scientists believe climate change will also affect cicadas.
Chris Simon, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, has studied and studied cicadas for many years.
“If we have a warmer winter and an earlier spring, cicadas will emerge earlier,” Simon told CNET. “A warming climate has lengthened the growing season in certain regions, making cicadas ready to emerge from the ground many years earlier, typically four years earlier, and the population of cicadas temporarily increasing by 17 years by 13 years. If this happens repeatedly, we hypothesize that the 17-year cicada could become a permanent 13-year cicada.”
However, Simon told CNET that this change will not reduce the number of cicadas, only adjust their schedules. Also, it should not affect the food chain. Because “animals that eat them above ground will see them more often, and animals that eat them below ground will still do so,” Simon says.
Climate change may cause cicadas to move further north, but that won't change anytime soon. Simon points out that periodic cicadas can only migrate once they are adults, which only happens for a few weeks every 13 or 17 years. Periodic cicadas can fly, but they don't travel much or over long distances. Man-made asphalt and cement obstacles can also prevent cicadas from flying north.
How can we support cicada researchers?
Want to help scientists learn more about periodic cicadas?
“Citizen scientists are important for filling in parts of the distribution that we don't have time to visit or unknown parts of the distribution that we can test later,” Simon told CNET.
For your convenience, download Cicada Safari for iOS or Android, a free app developed by Simon's colleague Gene Kritsky. The app asks people to take photos of cicadas using their phones with geolocation enabled.
“(Kritsky's) team will be verifying the photos and recording the data to share with us,” Simon said.
How to protect your new small tree from cicadas
Cicadas should not damage large mature trees, but new young trees can be vulnerable. Female cicadas prefer to lay their eggs on trees with new leaves, which can cause holes in the branches and leaves that may wither, turn brown, or break. So if you live in cicada habitat, hold off on planting new trees until the cicadas are gone. It should be late June.
If you have a new, small tree and are concerned about cicada damage, you may want to loosely wrap the trunk and twigs where they meet the branches. You can use cheesecloth, foil tape, barrier tape, adhesive tape, etc. You can also use landscaping netting around small trees. CNET has a guide to protecting trees from cicadas.
Do humans eat cicadas?
The last part isn't for everyone, but you can actually eat cicadas. However, cicadas are related to shrimp and lobster, so if you are allergic to seafood, you should not try them.
If you're in good health and don't feel nauseous as soon as you eat unusual foods, there are plenty of easy cicada recipes on the web. Experts at Johns Hopkins University say they're “very tasty,” but acknowledge that the “worst factor” could prevent most of us from even trying them.
But the good news is that if your dog spooks a few, and dog owners know that some pups will eat literally anything, cicadas shouldn't harm them. Be careful not to choke by eating too much at once.