You’ve no doubt heard by now that the periodical cicada Brood X will soon make its above-ground appearance in the local landscape. As the progeny of the last major brood emergence in 2004, this spring’s brood has spent the past 17 years underground benignly feeding on the roots of trees. Around mid-May, in an amazing feat of synchronicity, their biological clocks will lead them to their final phase of life. The warming soil will cue the clawed, tan-colored nymphs by the hundreds, and in some locations, the thousands and even millions, to tunnel out of the ground, and climb up the nearest vertical surfaces to molt and transform themselves into the wondrous winged adult insects we recognize as Magicicada, the periodical cicada.
Through most of June, the males will drone from the trees—the cacophony can be deafening, reaching decibels that can surpass the sound of a lawn mower—to attract females and mate. The females then lay their eggs in the branches of trees where, after hatching, the young nymphs drop and burrow underground to call the subterranean realm home until the clock once again counts the passing of 17 years.
Because their lifecycle depends upon wooded areas, habitat loss and urbanization pose a threat to this unique creature found nowhere else on earth. In the midst of the spectacle its easy to lose sight of the environmental benefits their emergence brings:
12 comments on "Cicada Countdown"
Hi, Is there any county assistance for helping to cover young trees from Cicadas? Our young trees are already too tall for our tallest ladder and I was wondering if the county was able to help get the netting over the trees.
Jacklyn, thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, the County does not have the capacity and resources to assist. I’m wondering if any neighbors or gardening group can assist?
How can I get rid of the cicadas in my front yard.
Lauren, thank you for your comment. Cicadas will disappear on their own in a month or so. They do not bite or hurt your plants.
We just (today) planted new Rose of Sharon bush to attract bees. I also ordered two special butterfly bushes (extra $) which will arrive this week for the same reason. No offense to the cicadas but I want to encourage bees a heck of a lot more. What can We do to protect these new bushes? I. Am now officially horrified at what the cicadas will do to our newer plantings. HELP, please!
Susan, thank you for the comment. That is exciting that you are trying to attract bees and butterflies to your garden. The Cicadas should be out of here in a month or so. Both Rose of Sharon and Butterfly bush are non-native and easily spreads around so we do not recommend you plant it in your garden. Depending upon site conditions, the flowers of native shrubs like red and black chokeberries (Photinia melanocarpa and P. pyrifolia), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), and blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) are all attractive to bees. The small flowers of shrubs in the holly family (Ilex sp. ) can provide good early spring resources for bees. You can find additional resource for native plants here:https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/water/rainscapes/resources.html#plants.
Hello, we just moved to Texas and experienced our first season of cicadas this last summer. Any tips for the south or are they the same everywhere?