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Cicada Spring

BUG-EYED Huge, red eyes make periodical cicadas easy to identify. GERRY BROOME—AP

More than a trillion cicadas are coming to the United States. Two broods brood group (noun) A duck walked through the park, followed by her brood of ducklings. of the red-eyed flying insects are emerging from the ground this month. People in the Midwest and Southeast should expect a season of high-pitched buzzing.


Brood XIX cicadas show up every 13 years. Brood XIII cicadas show up every 17 years. The last time these two broods arrived together was more than two hundred years ago, in 1803. Here’s what to know about this rare event.

What Are Cicadas?

Cicadas are in the same family family a scientific grouping of related animals (noun) Dogs, foxes, and wolves belong to the canine family of animals. as stink bugs and bedbugs. For more than a decade, they live in burrows seven to eight inches underground, and then, when they’re mature enough, they make their way out.

Hi, FRIENDS! These cicadas are members of Brood X. They emerged in 2021.


Weeks before they’re expected to emerge, cicadas build tunnels to the surface. But they don’t come out of their burrows until the soil temperature warms up to about 64°F.

Cicadas are unusual because of their lengthy life span. But they don’t live very long once they’re out of the ground. After they emerge, they have only four to six weeks to mate before they die.

ALL GROWN UP This cicada is now an adult (left). It has shed its nymphal, or childhood, skin on an oak tree.


Periodical periodical recurring after an expected period of time (adjective) The magazines were located with the other periodical materials in the library. cicadas are about an inch long. Their wingspan is about twice that length. They’re identified by their orange wing veins and big red eyes. There are seven different species, three of which surface every 17 years. The other four emerge every 13 years.

Most cicadas show up right on time. But sometimes they “count the years” wrong. For instance, people were surprised when thousands of cicadas emerged in the year 2000, four years ahead of schedule.

What to Expect

Cicadas will be seen across several states. Probably only two—Illinois and Indiana—will get to see both broods. Brood XIII might appear in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Brood XIX might be seen in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.

LOOK AROUND Do you live in one of the 15 states expecting cicadas this year? If so, how many can you spot?


The male cicada’s mating call is a loud buzz. Many people find it annoying. But cicadas are harmless to humans (see “Insect Impact”). They don’t sting or bite.

Insect Impact


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says cicadas can have a positive impact on nearby plants and animals. They’re a great food source for birds, such as hawks (left). And they’re nutritious for the soil as they decompose. Cicadas won’t be harmful to flowers or fruit, because they only consume sap from trees and shrubs.

Female cicadas can damage a young tree if they lay their eggs in its branches. To protect trees, the EPA suggests covering them in mesh or netting. Cicada Safari is a website created by Mount St. Joseph University, in Ohio. It suggests wrapping a tree’s branches with cheesecloth to keep cicadas away.