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The Cicadas Are Coming!

Updated on April 21, 2013

After seventeen years of living underground, in the spring of 2013, the periodical cicada will emerge by the billions on the east coast of the United States(North Carolina to the New England states).

What are Cicadas, you ask? They are locust looking, red-eyed bugs, that are harmless to people, animals and most plant life, but very soon will be impossible to ignore. Once the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees, they will emerge, and our mutual co-existence will begin.

Although cicadas hatch within tree branches, they immediately make their way underground to feed on the fluid of plant roots for the majority of their lives. Once they are ready to mate, they emerge from the ground in enormous numbers, overrunning our landscape, crunching beneath our feet and driving us crazy with their noisy mating calls. Then one day, they will be gone and forgotten for another seventeen years.

The mating call of a cicada comes only from the male and is actually a sound made from vibrating membranes on their abdomens, but can exceed 120 decibels! Once the male has attracted his lady friend and they breed, he dies. (I feel a joke brewing, so let's move on.)

The impregnated female lays as many as 600 eggs in surrounding trees and bushes by cutting small slits in the branches and depositing her eggs in those slits. She too dies soon thereafter. This amazing, noisy, eerie process takes about thirty days.

If you have young or weak trees/ bushes that you would like to protect, wrap them in insect netting and wrap the base of the trunk with insect barrier tape. Older, more mature trees and bushes usually recover quickly. It has been suggested by entomologists that trimming back trees close to your home will help keep the insects from coming inside.

If you are using power tools or lawn maintenance equipment, prepare to be landed upon! The cicada confuses the sounds they make themselves with the sound of the machinery, and will actually land on people using the machines. Suggested times of day to cut your lawn are in the early morning or near dusk as the insects are less active. Another suggestion is to wear a hat when working outside, especially under trees. Cicadas drink tree fluids, so they pee…need I say more.

If you live between North Carolina and the New England states, may your cicada experience be more interesting than miserable! Remember, it is only once every seventeen years…don’t forget your hats!!


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    • picklesandrufus profile image
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      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      I agree Dream On! Not looking forward to the Cicada experience, but nothing I can do about it. Hope they don't make it up your way!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 4 years ago

      That is is one bug that can keep moving on.I don't see any coming to Maine but I will let you know.Very interesting story.I would of never believed it.

    • picklesandrufus profile image
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      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      I bet you are Brenda! It will not be a pleasant experience, but this too shall pass. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.

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      Brenda Durham 4 years ago

      Hi, picklesandrufus,

      Like you said, the cicadas supposedly will be mainly in specific States. National Geographic says Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

      I was wondering if they'd be here in Indiana again. But I guess not! Well, I'm kinda breathing a sigh of relief!

    • picklesandrufus profile image
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      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Hi prettynutjob30.....fly in your mouth!??!!? ugh!! I will remember to keep my mouth shut...probably a good thing for many reasons:) Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.

    • prettynutjob30 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      Great hub, voted up and shared, I hate those little bugs they get on my clothes, hair and everything, even had a couple fly in my mouth.

    • picklesandrufus profile image
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      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      You crack me up ImKarn23! Can you believe people actually eat them?!!?!? Thanks for stopping by.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      How convenient is that - that the male dies after ensuring his legacy..

      Other than that - i see very little positive about the cicada..

      (i am imagining the 'crunching' underfoot...)

      EWWWWW....

      Thanks for the heads up P n R!

      sharing on..

    • picklesandrufus profile image
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      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Hi Billybuc! Honestly, I could go a lifetime without having them land or pee on me! Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      Hi Mhatter! Thanks for stopping by. At least you met them in passing. They are coming here to stay for a while:)

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Met them once at the Grand Canyon.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've heard about it my entire lifetime but never seen one of these little buggers. Good luck with the invasion, and thanks for the interesting information.

    • profile image

      Brenda Durham 4 years ago

      Maybe they weren't as plentiful where you lived at the time?..........

      We lived in the country, and I remember them being all over our yard!

      What I can't believe is that it's been 17 years. Time goes so fast!

    • picklesandrufus profile image
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      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      thanks for stopping by to comment Brenda. I don't remember them and can't believe I could forget something like this!

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      Brenda Durham 4 years ago

      Oh wow. I remember the last time when cicadas came.........I just didn't realize they're due this year!! Thanks for the neat hub and the heads-up, picklesandrufus!

    • picklesandrufus profile image
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      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Hi Vickiw, thanks for your comment. Can't say that I am looking forward to that noise!!

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      Vickiw 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading this, and it brought back memories of my childhood in South Africa, with the deafening shrill noise day after day!

    • picklesandrufus profile image
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      picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      thanks Deborah!! I appreciate the comment....just left your hub:) Glad to see you too, my hub friend.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      You know I remember these pesky little things back in Virginia.. and yes it's been 17 years ago.. wow. how time flies.. Great hub Pickles.. I have missed you my dear.. it is so good to see you

      I am sharing

      Debbie