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July 8, 2010

Hot weather means cicadas emerge sooner? Most likely.

Filed under: Neocicada,Tibicen — Dan @ 7:56 am

Temperature is a factor in when cicadas will emerge from the earth and enter the adult phase of their lives. Cicadas like warm weather (as do most insects) and so once the soil & air reaches a temperature that pleases the cicadas, they will likely emerge. There are other factors of course, but hotter weather usually means cicadas will emerge sooner than later.

The spring and summer of 2010 has been HOTTER than usual in the mid-Atlantic area of the United States, and so species of cicadas are emerging earlier than expected. Since June first, I’ve witnessed, 32 days above 80F(27C), and 11 days above 90F(32C), in New Jersey, which is warmer than usual.

Annual cicada species like the Tibicen species and Neocicada hieroglyphica have been emerging sooner than expected. has reports of Neocicada hieroglyphica, Tibicen lyricen and T. tibicen (T. chloromera) emerging sooner than expected. I’ve been hearing T. linnei in New Jersey since June.

Massachusetts Cicadas
is reporting a slow start for Tibicen. Massachusetts is a New England state, and is typically cooler than Mid-Atlantic states like New Jersey, but that might not be the only factor at work here. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

What else…

Temperature will also effect when a cicada will sing: if it’s too cold cicadas won’t sing, and if it’s too hot the poor over-heated cicadas won’t sing. This is why you won’t hear some annual cicadas singing on a cool day, or when it’s near 100F(38C). This depends on the species too; some species like it HOT, and some like it cool.

I’ve also heard that temperature can effect the frequency of a cicada’s song, however there is not a formula that allows to you determine the temperature based on the pauses in a cicada’s call like there is for crickets.


  1. barthes Isabelle says:

    Bonjour je vis dans le sud de la France où j’entends pendant un mois et demi les cigales. Ce n’est pas la même espèce que vous aux USA, les nôtres sont beaucoup + petites. Elles ont peut-être aussi notre accent du soleil, mais cela c’est autre chose !
    Dans mon pays, elles ne vivent qu’autour du bassin méditerranéen.
    Moi, j’associe le chant des cigales à l’été évidemment mais aussi aux vacances, à la famille…. le bonheur tout simplement. Et tous les ans, les réentendre c’est un enchantement. Isa.

  2. Dan says:

    No idea. Ask the folks who run :)

  3. Kirk says:

    PS: How old is the photo of the larva emerging from the hole in the ground next to the wheat stalk penny, found on Judging from the brightness of the wheaty penny, I’m betting it’s prior to 1957 or so. What do you think? Are these images just constantly recycled, or are new photos taken? Just curious…

  4. Kirk says:

    Oh, yes, there’s a racoon whose been hanging around recently… every night in fact. If he’s eating those cicada, more power to him… but I wish he’d stop eating our cat’s dry food!

  5. Dan says:

    Kirk, look out for Cicada Killer Wasps in particular, but besides the wasps and the birds nocturnal animals like possums, raccoons take advantage of cicadas. The interesting thing is that although the cicadas emerged earlier than usual because of the heat, the normal number of them emerged so predators will be fatter earlier than usual, but no more fatter than usual. Also, because they’re an annual variety of cicadas, there aren’t that many (as compared to periodical cicadas), so less to feast on.

  6. Kirk G says:

    With the explosion in number and song of the cicada this week (above 90 degree temps and heat index into the 100s) why do we not see lots of birds feasting with fat, full bellies? What is the natural preditor of the cicada, and when can we expect to see them kick in?
    Do we have to protect our outdoor cats from eating these cicada? Can they harm them?

  7. michelle says:

    I live in New York City and have been hearing cicadas now since early July. I always associated the wonderful cicada song with deep summer, which here, is the month of August. So this concerns me, as I know so many species are now affected by climate change and can’t help but wonder if this is but another example. Will they continue to emerge throughout August if they start so early? I have also seen the cicada wasp… I found one last year dragging a cicada to his underground burrow. Had no clue these things existed, and went to look it up. To have them here in NYC is astounding and wonderful to me. But I worry that the wasps will not have their prey source if this is an early emergence, as the timing will be off. What do you think?


  8. Dan L. says:

    I’ve been hearing them here in central Ohio for a good month now. I’m glad I saw this because I thought I was crazy in thinking they were way early.

  9. David Emery says:

    Good stuff Dan- you also have altitude and latitude data affecting Magi emergences- with a basis in temperature. Not quite so easily defined in Oz, though temp is a major factor- what other factors are important also includes rain here and probably some local influences.

  10. Donna Samoyloff says:

    Thanks for the come-back. It’s after dark now and they’re still buzzing like the dickens!

  11. Dan says:

    In Toronto… they might be Okanagana cicadas (BTW).

    Their life cycles last anywhere from 2 to 17 years depending on the species. Annual cicadas (the type that arrive every year) have shorter life cycles than the periodical cicadas (which have 13 or 17 year life cycles — none of those in Canada).

    Cicadas start life a rice-shaped egg placed in a grove of a plant branch by the mother cicada. They hatch, and feed off the fluids of the tree. Cicadas between the egg and adult stage are called “nymphs”. When they’re big enough, they leave the groove and fall to the earth where they burrow into the ground and feed off the roots of grasses. Once they’re large enough, they move to the roots of trees, where they actively burrow from root to root. Cicadas have 5 stages of life, called instars. Each instar signals a phase in the cicada’s life; the first 4 are spend underground, feeding on plant fluids from roots; the cicadas don’t change dramatically as they progress from phase to phase, until they reach the 5th instar, when the leave the ground, leave their nymph skin behind, and enter adulthood. It’s the adults that sing and fly around.

  12. Donna Samoyloff says:

    Cicadas have been loud in Toronto since July 6th. The weather has been unusually warm; it’s not expected to cool even a little until just before the weekend.

    I don’t understand about the cicada cycle. Does this mean that individual cicadas cycle or that all of a species do?

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