Here’s something I wrote in 1996 to chronicle the Brood II cicada emergence in 1996. It’s probably meant to be semi-humorous.
Dan’s Cicada Diary for 1996.
Sunday, May 19th: Metuchen, New Jersey; I found the first desiccated cicada nymph exoskeleton on my patio. My cat disappears.
Tuesday, May 21st: I found about 40 nymph exoskeletons on my patio, a pine tree, and a maple tree. I also spotted an adult climbing the maple and two crippled adults rolling about the base of the tree.
Wednesday, May 22nd: Bonanza! I found about 500 adults perched on just about everything in my yard: trees, patio furniture, the foundation of my home, the garden hose, garbage cans, the missing cat’s water dish, my hair…just plain everywhere! Gruesome!
Saturday, May 25th: Avenel, New Jersey; Party at the Ritzow’s. Literally, hundreds of adult cicadas perched high above in oak trees sneer at decadent humans sipping martini’s, playing croquet. Bourgeois homo sapiens…bah humbug!
Thursday, May 30th: Metuchen, New Jersey; Still no sign of the cat. Sitting outside on my patio around 8:30 pm I hear a “snap”, “crackle” and “popping” sound. Rice Crispies? No. More like cicadas nymphs crawling out of their holes and onto my garden wall to molt into adulthood. Not the loveliest sight.
Saturday, June 1st: Westfield, New Jersey; Dave Wilson and Claire Adas’ wedding. A beautiful ceremony and reception, with the exception of the 9000 uninvited cicadas: crawling up people’s legs, crunching underfoot, landing in refreshments…a moment to cherish and remember!
Tuesday, June 4th: North Edison, New Jersey; The cicadas have begun to sing! All together they sound like a Boeing 767 is circling 40 feet overhead. The sound is that awesome. 10 inch deep piles of dying post-coitus adults litter the base of trees. The invasion has only begun!
Wednesday, June 5th – Monday, June 17th: Metuchen, North Edison, Colonia, Avenel, New Jersey; The invasion is in full effect! Homeowners in North Edison and Colonia report having to haul away the dying bodies of cicadas inwheelbarrows! Residents describe the cicadas’ combined mating screams as “loud as a UFO” [how do they know what a UFO sounds like?] and “like a Mack Truck was floating ten foot above your head”! Someone even told me cicadas taste like shrimp! I guess they made the best of a bad situation.
Wednesday, June 26th: Metuchen, New Jersey; It appears the invasion is over. All that remains is the dismembered, rotting corpses and the memories, sweet, sweet, memories. But remember, They’ll be back…in the year 2013!
Saturday, August 3rd: Metuchen, New Jersey; Looking out my second-story window I can clearly see the damage done by the 17-year cicadas. Brown patches of dead leaves speckle local oak and maple trees, revealing the branches where the female cicada has chosen to lay her eggs; an interesting “natural disaster”, but, not as heart-breaking as an earthquake or a flood. Clearly, the most provocative news regarding cicadas is the current hatch of annual cicadas, which are larger than the “17-year” cicadas (thoroughly illustrated within this web page) and greener. Another dissimilarity is the difference in their respective mating calls: while the “17-year” cicada makes a whirring sound somewhere between the motor of a vacuum cleaner and a car alarm, the “annual” cicada sounds more like a lawn sprinkler or maybe a sewing machine. Although I can clearly hear hundreds of “annual” cicadas and I have found their shells, I haven’t visually located a single one! Another cicada-related event has been the recent hatch of “cicada killer” wasps. These two-inch long giant wasps only prey upon, our friend, the defenseless cicada. I haven’t located these creatures either, but, they are definitely out there. Cicadas beware!
Wednesday, August 26th: Metuchen, New Jersey; the Tibicen cicadas continue to sing…
Wednesday, November 6th: Metuchen, New Jersey; they are all dead or sucking on roots underground.
Every 17 years a fearsome biological monstrosity drags its way to the surface of the earth. It comes only to mate and spawn; however, it imparts terror and disgust in the hearts and minds of every man, woman, child, and beast unfortunate enough to cross its path. This is no Hollywood fantasy, ladies and gentlemen, this creature is real, horribly real! Cast your trembling eyes upon mother nature’s most disturbing insectoid aberration…T
he Cicada a.k.a. “The 17-Year Locust”
July 17th, 1997
Seriously, folks, the cicada isn’t a locust, it’s, well, a cicada (a member of the Homoptera order of insects). These charming creatures are best known for their intense mating call, which sounds more or less like a lawn sprinkler, or a miniature AH-64 Apache Black Helicopter. When 10,000 or so of these suckers start screaming in your neighborhood you’ll think you’re in the middle of Apocalypse Now. Nowisthe time! Depending on where you live, these heinous herbivores should be dive-bombing your friends and family any day now.
Actually, they are more likely tofallout of a tree thanfly, but, rest assured, they will be landing somewhere on your body sometime soon.
Ilive in central New Jersey and right now we are up to our mandibles in a plague of these sap slurping oddities. Some breeds, including the green/yellow striped cicadas, rear their ugly heads every year, but, fortunately not in great numbers. The “periodic”, black-bodied, red-eyed, spawn of Beelzebub cicadas only present themselves once every 17 years;unfortunately,there are literally millions of them. Worst of all, they have a face, just like you or me!
Periodic cicadas live to be 17 years old (13 years in southern states), which means they’re the only insect that qualifies for a driver’s license in New Jersey. Actually, these creatures only spend two to four weeks of their lives as an adult. They spend the first 17 years underground sucking on roots! Exciting! Once the adults have mated, the female drills a hole in a tree branch with her butt (technically her ovipositor) and lays her eggs. The eggs soon hatch and the “nymphs” fall to the ground where they feed on root sap. As soon as the adults mate they croak and drop to the ground where they will decay and stink. If I were you I wouldn’t hang out under any trees this year. In the end, your best offense will be a shovel and a bucket, or, a hungry golden retriever.
Many periodical cicadas emerged four years early in the Chicago area in 2020. These cicadas belong to the Brood XIII (13) which is set to emerge in 2024, and last emerged in 2007. Periodical cicadas often emerge in years proceeding or following the year their brood is expected to emerge. This phenomenon is called straggling. Most of the time these “stragglers” emerge in small numbers and are quickly eaten by predators, and do not go on to sing, chorus (synchronized singing for the purpose of attracting females), mate, and lay eggs. Sometimes they emerge in numbers large enough to survive, chorus, and reproduce — this seems to have happened in the Chicago area in 2020. It is thought this is how new broods formed over the millennia — cicadas emerge 4 or 1 year early in significant numbers and form a new brood. When enough stragglers emerge to successfully reproduce it is called an acceleration.
So, is a new brood forming around Chicago? Is this due to climate change or localized “heat islands”? Will the progeny of these stragglers emerge in 13, 17 or 21 years? Lots of questions — but we’ll need to wait quite some time to answer them.
There is a precedence for Brood XIII cicadas straggling in the Chicago area:
In 1969 massive numbers of periodical cicadas emerged in the Chicago suburbs 1 (Williams, K.S. & Simon, C. 1995).
In 1986, another 4-year acceleration was observed in the Chicago area by Monte Lloyd 1.
In 2003, many people left observations on our forums. Observations were made in Glenview, Flossmoor, Riverside, Downers Grove, Homewood, Westmont, Oak Park, and Hinsdale. Here are some examples:
Magicicada emerging this evening
Date: Wednesday, Jun/4/2003
Message: As I went for a walk this evening I noticed quite a few periodic cicadas emerging in the grass, crawling on the sidewalks and on the trunks of trees. This is not our year for the 17-year brood. We should not have them until 2007. Has anyone else in the Chicago area seen these cicadas? — Sue, Flossmoor, IL
Date: Monday, Jun/9/2003
Message: I heard the cicadas singing for the first time this morning after my walk. Now that I have my doors open I can hear them on and off. — Sue, Flossmoor, IL
In 2020 many people left comments on the Brood XIII page, emailed us (thanks Neil) and left sightings via the Cicada Safari app.
Looking at the latest map from Cicada Safari app data, it appears that cicadas from Brood V are emerging 4 years late. 4 year Stragglers! 21-year-old cicadas! Look around Akron, Ohio, eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia.
Magicicada Chorus. Recorded in New Jersey, Brood X (2004) by Dan Mozgai:
Magicicada Brood Chart
The Brood Chart features the names of the broods (Roman numerals), their life cycle length when they will emerge next, which states they’ll emerge in, links to Maps, the species that will emerge, and other information. Click the maps for larger, detailed maps.
Species: M. tredecim, M. neotredecim, M. tredecassini, M. tredecula.
States: AR, IL, IN, KY, LA, MO, MS, TN
When will they emerge?
Generally speaking, these cicadas will begin to emerge when the soil 8″ beneath the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit (Heath, 1968). A nice, warm rain will often trigger an emergence. They typically emerge in May but have been known to emerge in late April or early June. It all depends on the weather.
What should you look for before they emerge?
Chimneys / Turrets
Look for cicada chimneys a.k.a. turrets. These are structures cicadas build out of the soil, positioned above the hole where they will emerge.
Look for holes in the diameter of an adult’s finger near the root system of a tree. These are sure signs that cicadas will emerge in the area.
Cicadas Under Stones & Slates
You might discover some cicada nymphs while turning over stones or when performing landscaping chores.
This is a recently emerged nymph crawling up a tree. Note that its eyes are red.
Once cicadas nymphs have emerged from the ground, they will try to find a tree (or similar vertical surface), and then begin the process of shedding their old nymph skins (ecdysis), expanding their wings, and changing to their adult coloring. Watch this amazing transformation.
How to tell the difference between the seven Magicicada species:
Left to right: Magicicada cassini, Magicicada septendecula, Magicicada septendecim:
The first way is based on the Brood. Take a look at the Brood chart above, and see which species appear with the Brood.
There are 3 basic types of Magicicada: “‘Decims”, “‘Cassini” and “‘Deculas”.
Ask someone who lived there 17 (or 13) years before.
Old timers (hint: old timers usually call them locusts).
Check your local Library for old newspaper articles.
Check with a local college: contact the entomology, forestry, or agriculture-related departments.
Your local national, state, county, and town parks department (parks and rec). Some county parks departments plan events around cicada emergences.
When will they emerge?
They will emerge sometime in the Spring, for sure.
They typically emerge once the soil 8 inches (20 cm) below the surface gets to 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celcius). At that temperature, they will start digging their tunnels to the surface. After a couple of days with above-ground temperatures near the 80’s F, and after a good rain, they will emerge. Read this paper for more info: Thermal Synchronization of Emergence in Periodical “17-year” Cicadas (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada) by James Edward Heath, American Midland Naturalist, Vol. 80, No. 2. (Oct. 1968), pp. 440-448.
Cicadas in sunny areas of your yard will emerge before cicadas in shady areas.
Cicadas in the southernmost states will emerge before cicadas in the northern states.
Question: Why do I have cicadas in my neighborhood, but your chart indicates that I shouldn’t?
Answer: Some possibilities: 1) they are stragglers, periodical cicadas that emerge too soon or late, 2) they are not periodical cicadas, but are a different North American species, 3) you live on a continent other than North America, in which case, try one of these pages, or 4) SURPRISE! The U.S. is a big place and some cicada populations have yet to be documented.
Question: Why don’t I have periodical cicadas in my area, but the information on your website indicates that I should?
Answer:Stragglers can emerge 1 or 4 years early or 1 or 4 years late. Don’t be surprised if you see some periodical cicadas emerge earlier than planned this year. 17-year brood members are most likely to straggle 4 years early, and 13-year brood members are most likely to straggle 4 years late. Straggler probability chart.
Question: Why are there no Brood XI, XII, XV, XVI… ?
Answer: Perhaps you’ve noticed there are no Broods XI (11), XII (12), XV (15), XVI (16), XVII (17), XVIII (18), XX (20), XXI (21), XXIV (24), etc. Don’t worry about that. They never existed or are extinct (XI, XXI).
In 2020, the main periodical cicada brood expected to emerge in the U.S. is Brood IX (9). Brood IX will emerge in southern West Virginia, western Virginia, and a small portion of north-western North Carolina. This we know for sure.
If you want to see where cicadas are being reported, try the Cicada Safari App is available for Android and Apple devices .
OK, here’s the point of this article:
Cicadas from other broods will also emerge this year in small numbers. When cicadas emerge early or late, they’re called stragglers. Don’t get hung up on the meaning of the word. If it makes you happy, call the ones that emerge early “precursors”, “pioneers”, or “heralds”.
Members of Brood XIX (19) are emerging in parts of North Carolina and Georgia, where Brood XIX is know to exist. There’s some discussion of this over on the Cicada Discussion, Science and Study Group on Facebook. You might see them in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Lousiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Members of Brood XIII (13) are likely to emerge 4 years early in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and possibly Michigan.
The rest of Brood XIII emerge in 2024 (a big year for periodical cicadas). Here’s a map.
Some members of Brood X (10) should emerge 1 year early in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.
The rest of Brood X will emerge next year in 2021. Here’s a map.
Here’s a screen shot from the Cicada Safari app:
Within the app, you can zoom in to see where the cicadas are appearing. Here’s a “Live Map” of the sightings from the app.Pinch and zoom to get details.
Periodical cicada Brood IX (9) emerged in the spring of 2020 in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The last time this brood emerged was in 2003. It will emerge again in 2037.
Researchers need your help! If you see a cicada, please report it using the Cicada Safari App , available for Android and Apple phones.
Brood IX is interesting to researchers because it’s located very close to 5 other broods. In a normal year, researchers would be able to drive the roads of the area and map the location of the brood so we can get data as to where the broods intersect, but because of the current situation in the U.S., most if not all researchers will be able to travel — so we need you to let us know where they’re at. Read more on Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org).
What, when, where, and why:
Cicada insects with a 17-year life cycle.
Some people call them “locusts” but they’re really cicadas.
When: Typically beginning in mid-May and ending in late June. These cicadas will begin to emerge approximately when the soil 8" beneath the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit (Heath, 1968). A nice, warm rain will often trigger an emergence.
Other tips: these cicadas will emerge after the trees have grown leaves, and, by my own observation, around the same time Iris flowers bloom.
Virginia municipalities: Blacksburg, Bland, Callands, Christiansburg, Covington, Dry Pond, Ferrum, Martinsville, Roanoke, Salem, Vinton, and more.
Virginia counties: Allegheny, Bland, Franklin, Henry, Montgomery, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Roanoke.
North Carolina municipalities: Chestnut Hill, Ennice, Francisco, Hays, Kernersville, McGrady, Millers Creek, Mt Airy, North Wilkesboro, Purlear, Thurmond, Westfield, and more.
North Carolina counties: Ashe, Alleghany, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes.
West Virginia municipalities: Camp Creek, Elmhurst, Hinton, Jumping Branch, Spanishburg, and more.
West Virginia counties: Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, Pocahontas, Summers.
A quick tip using data from the Cicada Safari app team:
Cicadas in the north-west areas are Brood IX (red). Cicadas south & east of that area (purple) are Brood XIX emerging early.
When: Typically beginning in mid-May and ending in late June. These cicadas will begin to emerge approximately when the soil 8″ beneath the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. A nice, warm rain will often trigger an emergence.
Other tips: these cicadas will emerge after the trees have grown leaves, and, by my own observation, around the same time Iris flowers bloom.
Illinois places: Belvidere, Brookfield, Channahon, Chicago, Des Plaines River Trail, Downers Grove, Egermann Woods County Forest Preserve, Elmhurst, Flossmoor, Geneva, Glen Ellyn, Highland Park, Hinsdale, Homewood, La Grange, Lagrange Woods, Lake Forest, Lansing, Lincolnshire, Lisle, Lombard, MacArthur Woods Forest Preserve, Marseilles, McHenry, McKinley Woods, Morton Arboretum, Naperville, Northbrook, Ogden, Ottawa, Palos Heights, River Forest, River Grove, Romeoville, Ryerson Woods, Schiller Park, Thornton, Vernon Hills, Villa Park, Weaton, Western Springs, Westmont, Wonder Lake, and more.
Smaller than M. neotredecim & M. tredecim. Orange stripes on its abdomen, through not as much as M. neotredecim & M. tredecim. Its chorus sounds like a ticking clock. Very similar to the 17-year M. septendecula.
Playlists contain multiple videos found on YouTube.
Descriptions, Colors: personal observations from specimens or photos from many sources. Descriptions are not perfect, but may be helpful.
Tribe information comes from: MARSHALL, DAVID C. et al.A molecular phylogeny of the cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) with a review of tribe and subfamily classification.Zootaxa, [S.l.], v. 4424, n. 1, p. 1—64, may 2018. ISSN 1175-5334. Available at: https://www.biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.4424.1.1
Some descriptions are based on aged specimens which have lost some or a lot of their color.