Periodical cicadas, widely known as “17-year cicadas,” are large, flying insects that make loud buzzing noises and emerge every 13-17 years. Often incorrectly referred to as locusts, these insects have a very striking appearance, with large black bodies, wide red eyes, and orange wing veins. Part of the reason periodical cicadas have been getting so much press in the U.S. lately is the rise of “Brood X”—the current batch of periodical cicadas that are currently sweeping the country in groupings of hundreds or even thousands per acre.
Periodical cicadas spend most of their lives underground, with only a small number emerging each year. However, when that 13-17 year interval does come around, they are pretty hard to miss. Brood X, also known as the Great Eastern Brood, is one of the largest batches of periodical cicadas to emerge in recent history, with billions currently sweeping multiple states in various parts of the country. Keep reading for everything you need to know about cicadas in the United States, courtesy of our residential and commercial pest control experts at proof. pest control.
Brood X: Answers to Your Top FAQs
- What Do Cicadas Eat? Underground, periodical cicadas usually feed on the juice and sap from tree roots. However, once they emerge, adult cicadas feed on a variety of plant juices, potentially causing minimal damage to trees.
- How Long Do Cicadas Live? For as much attention as Brood X is currently getting, cicadas do not have a very long lifespan. Most of these insects only live for a few weeks once they reach adulthood, and it is likely Brood X will be completely gone before Labor Day.
- Why Do Cicadas Make So Much Noise? As mentioned above, cicadas emit a loud buzzing noise, that at its peak can reach 100 decibels. The sound they make has been compared to a concentrated electrical charge. Cicadas produce this noise by using a special structure on their abdomen called a tymbal, spreading their signature buzzing as far as possible to attract mates.
- Where Do Cicadas Live? As mentioned above, periodical cicadas spend most of their lives underground. When they emerge, they usually seek shelter in trees, feeding off sap and laying eggs in slits that females make on the end of small branches. Brood X is likely to remain concentrated to roughly 15 states, primarily located in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions.
- Are Cicadas Dangerous? While cicadas are loud and may seem threatening because of their distinct features and large size (adult cicadas range in measurement from 3/4 to 2 and 1/4 inches,) cicadas are not considered a threat to human beings. They do not bite or sting, and they generally do not even infest homes, preferring to stay in their dwellings outside. The one group cicadas may harm is the tree population, as they cause cosmetic damage to trees by laying eggs in their branches. However, cicadas also provide a lot of benefits to our ecosystem. For instance, cicada nymphs construct tunnels that help aerate the soil, so tree roots have more access to nutrients and oxygen for growth. Cicadas also serve as a food source for animals, including birds, reptiles, snakes, and spiders. And speaking of cicadas as a food source…
- Can You Eat Cicadas? One of the discussions around the emergence of Brood X is whether it is a good idea to get rid of cicada carcasses by eating them. As a general rule, all cicadas are safe to eat, though professionals have suggested that tenerals, which cicadas that have just molted, are the most tender. You can even find recipes for cicada soup, cicada cocktails, and even cicada cupcakes on the internet. The flavor of these insects has been described as nutty, with a shrimp-like texture. Of course, whether you can eat cicadas and whether you should eat them are two different questions. Cicadas are a good source of vitamins and protein, but given all the other sources of protein you can use to fill out your diet, you’re probably better just sticking to meat and nuts.