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November 10, 2012

Cicada Turrets or Chimneys

Filed under: Chimneys — Dan @ 9:29 am

Cicada nymphs create what we call turrets or chimneys above the tunnel hole where they will eventually emerge. These chimneys are made from soil. They are a positive indication of where cicada nymphs are underground and that they will emerge soon. Cicadas seem to build chimneys in wetter, muddier areas; in dry areas they will simply make holes at the surface. The chimneys will help keep water and mud from back-filling their holes, so they can continue to breathe, take a peek out and prepare to emerge.

Magicicada Tunnel (by Les Daniels):

Magicicada chimney

Magicicada chimney

A cicada tunnel in Bangkok Thailand (by Santisuk Vibul):
cicada tunnel view from top Thailand photo by Santisuk Vibul

Three Magicicada chimneys (by Roy Troutman):

Magicicada nymph turret by Roy:

This is video taken of a magicicada nymph turret. These turrets are often found in wet areas.

Magicicada nymph turret from Roy Troutman on Vimeo.


  1. Rebecca says:

    Don’t they only come every 17 years?

    1. Dan says:

      The Annual species like Neotibicen and Megatibicen emerge every year, but in smaller numbers.

  2. Kelly says:

    How many more weeks? 2, 3, 4?

    1. Dan says:

      Depends on where you are.

  3. Jeff says:

    We just noticed them flying all around today in Woodbridge NJ. Is this as much as I will see, or is the invasion just beginning? (6/12/13)

    1. Dan says:

      They’ll be around for a couple more weeks.

  4. Kelly says:

    I don’t live near Unami Park nor do I ever go there so I wouldn’t know. I live on the North side by the school. I was just curious if we were still going to get them.

    1. Dan says:

      At this point if you don’t have them, but probably won’t get them. This could be good news for some, and sad for others.

  5. Kelly says:

    I live in Garwood NJ

    1. Dan says:

      That is odd. They are in Westfield and Cranford. How about in Unami Park?

  6. Kelly says:

    We have no cicadas in our town. The sorrounding towns have them bad. We will not be getting them?

    1. Dan says:

      Which town do you live in?

  7. Sue says:

    Do the cicadas have any predators?
    They are EVERYWHERE in Cornwall-On Hudson, NY. They are now flying and hanging out on branches, plants, sides of buildings, etc. The chorus of all of them is amazing!

    1. Dan says:

      The only predator that specifically targets them is the Massosporan fungus. That said, pretty much every animal with a mouth will try to eat them. There are so many, that the predators can’t keep up.

  8. Sue says:

    Found a corpse on my driveway 5 days ago in Red Hook, NY (on Hudson, 100 miles n. of NYC). Started hearing their singing on and off two days ago Now (May 31 – it went up to 88 here yesterday) they are a constant serenade! How long will this music last? Love it for now.

    1. Dan says:

      The singing should last 3 to 4 weeks max.

  9. Danny says:

    Meriden,CT here. They started emerging last 72 hours, empty hard shells left up in Maple trees

  10. Sue says:

    They have emerged in Cornwall, NY. They are everywhere!!
    Thanks for the great web site. These are very interesting creatures.

  11. Brandi says:

    Once the bugs emerge what happens? I read they drink from tree I assume woods will be prime for them..but any woods? Do they tend to migrate? In other words do they emerge & just fly away or do they typically stay put? And if so, for how long? Thank you.

  12. Becky says:

    My neighborhood in Central Pennsylvania was just built 7 years ago. So, would all the cicadas have been dug up, killed, and not emerge in my area this year?

    1. Dan says:

      It’s very possible the cicadas were destroyed. I hope not.

  13. Amanda says:

    If the chimneys are distroyed will they not surface?

    1. Dan says:

      They will still surface if the chimneys are destroyed.

  14. GRH in LYH says:

    Thousands have emerged since the cold spell at the beginning of the week. The concrete stoop leading into the house was covered with nymphs last night. The whirring is getting louder and louder in the woods surrounding my domicile.
    I am in 24503, Lynchburg, VA, and today is May 16, 2013.

  15. Cathy says:

    Today we noticed lots & lots of these holes in our lawn…. I guess they’ll be out soon here in Staten Island, NY!

  16. laurie says:

    I have captured one so I could get a look at it an identify it. How do we control these guys I have a rather nice size garden? I already can’t grow zuccini an summer squash because of stink bugs kill them, any ideas on that?

    1. Dan says:

      Cicadas don’t eat garden plants, so you’re in luck. Cicadas actually lack mouth parts that chew. Instead they drink fluids from tree roots. And they don’t drink all that much: they only consume enough to grow about an inch in 17 years.

  17. megan bordenave says:

    Will they be coming to Southern Maryland?

  18. Chuck says:

    Any ideas on recipes? Should we eat the nymphs, or the adults (minus wings of course).

    1. Dan says:

      Yes. Here’s a link to a recipe book Cicada Recipe Book (PDF format).

  19. Jennifer says:

    I am also from Union County NJ – is it possible they are already coming up? I have a bunch of these mud chimneys/mud tunnels in front of my house in a shady/mulched area.

    1. Dan says:

      Sounds like you have cicadas in your yard just waiting for it to be warm enough to emerge.

  20. Kelly says:

    Does anyone know if and when they will be coming to union county NJ?

    1. Dan says:

      Kelly, it’s looking like the end of May since the spring has been so could so far. If we have a heat wave — a few days near the 80s — they should emerge.

  21. Danielle says:

    I also have these little purple flower weed clusters, with no sensible explanation, surrounded by many small holes. I live in an area in New Jersey where I have first hand knowledge of their last emergence 17 years ago.
    I suppose I should’ve waited until next year to seed my lawn. Do you think they will ruin my newly planted lawn?

    1. Dan says:

      Sounds like Henbit, but I don’t know of a relation to the cicadas.

  22. A . walls says:

    Do these things cause a unusual weed to grow before they emerge? I have this weed and holes in my yard and no one seems to know what they are. Not even Home Depot. They have a little cluster of purple flowers.

    1. Dan says:

      I’ve never heard of that before.

  23. sharon says:

    How are these different from what I think are cakked cicada killers…they have a similar look, and i’ve been plagued by them for the last 3 years! Equally creepy…should I bother calling the exterminator? My driveway is brick-lined…they push out all the dirt betwen the bricks, trying I guess to get to the cicadas…they look like giant dragon flies…thanks…

    1. Dan says:

      They’re different from cicada killer wasps in that these are the cicadas that the wasps kill, and the wasps are, well wasps. The wasps also build tunnels to place cicadas in (where the wasp larvae eats the cicadas), but in the case of the photos, these were made by cicadas to emerge from the ground.

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