Cicada Mania

Dedicated to cicadas, the most amazing insects in the world.

May 16, 2021

The 20 most frequently asked questions about cicadas

Filed under: FAQs — Dan @ 8:39 pm

Magicicada septendecim Brood VII 2018

I’m going to use this list for a video…

When will periodical cicadas emerge next?

The next major emergences are Brood XIII (17-year) and Brood XIX (13-year) in 2024. The last time these broods co-emerged was 1803.

What do cicadas eat?

Cicadas “eat” plant sap, specifically xylem. So, technically they don’t eat anything, they drink it. Bacteria in their gut digests it into nutrients the cicadas recieve nourishment from. More about what cicadas eat.

What is a cicada?

A cicada is an insect belonging to the order Hemiptera (true bugs), suborder Auchenorrhyncha, superfamily Cicadoidea and families Cicadidae (the vast majority of cicadas) or Tettigarctidae (only two species). They are best known for the song most males make, and for the long period of time they spend underground. They are found on every continent except for Antarctica. Same answer for the question “what is a cicada bug” or “what are cicadas” or “what is cicadas” or “what is cicada”?

How long do cicadas live?

The answer depends on the species. Three species of Magicicada live 17-years (documented up to 22). A species of Okanagana is suspected to live as long as 19 years. But some cicadas can live as few as two years, like Diceroprocta apache. Read more about how long cicadas live. If you mean, how long do they live above ground — anywhere from a few seconds (if a bird gets them) to about a month, depending on the species.

Where will the cicadas be in 2021?

If you mean the 17-year periodical cicadas, they’ll be parts of Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York (extinct or nearly so), Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. Read a lot more about Brood X. Worldwide cicadas will be found on every continent other an Antartica!

Where do cicadas live?

Most of their lives cicadas live underground, growing larger by drinking tree sap from plant roots. Most cicadas have short lives above ground, living on and amongst the plants (usually trees) whose roots they drank from.

How long do cicadas last?

Cicada individuals last above ground anywhere from a few seconds to about a month at max (maybe longer in captivity). This depends on the species. A periodical cicada emergence typically lasts about 5 to 6 weeks — the key is they don’t all emerge at once. Some annual cicadas can be found 4 months a year in the same location, like Neotibicen tibicen.

How long will the cicadas be here in 2021?

Assuming we’re taling about Brood X periodical cicadas, about 5 to 6 weeks — could be shorter depending on the weather. They’re less active the first and last week, so 3 to 4 weeks of crazy cicada behavior max.

How often do cicadas come out?

Magicicada cicadas come out once every 17 or 13 years. Brood X is every 17 years. There are 12 Broods of 17 year cicadas, and 3 Broods of 13 year cicadas. Mathematically speaking, each year there is an approximately 78% chance a Brood is emerging somewhere in the US. If we’re taking about other types of cicadas, they’ll be around late-spring and throughout the summer. Other species range from just 2 years, to as many as 19!

How how to pronounce cicada?

You can pronounce cicada however you like, but the most popular ways are ci-KAY-duh or si-KAH-duh. I prefer si-KAH-duh because that’s how they say it in Australia and that’s how William T. Davis pronounced it, and he had the largest collection of cicadas in North America.

Magicicada septendecim Brood VII 2018

How long will cicadas stay 2021?

If you mean Brood X, they’ll be around 4-6 weeks — 3 weeks of peak screaming cicada behavior. Other types of cicadas are typically around 1-4 weeks depending on the species.

What do cicadas do?

Depends on the species, but cicadas are best known for the long time the spend underground, and then the month or so they spend screaming above ground. Specifically, underground they dig tunnels, create cells, drink from roots, and grow. Above ground they emerge from the ground, molt, harden and inflate their wings, crawl, fly, scream, mate, lay their eggs in plant branches, and die.

How many cicadas are coming in 2021?

Trillions, Billions. Not all in one place. You might find a few dozen to thousands in your yard or local park.

What eats cicadas?

Depends on the species, the answer is everything with a mouth will eat a cicada. Yes people too. Some will eat so many cicadas, that they get tired of eating them, which is a strategy of cicada survival called predator satiation! Certian species of cicadas, like summertime Morning Cicadas are the favorite prey of Cicada Killer Wasps. There’s even a fungus that consumes cicadas, backend first: Which fungus attacks Magicicadas? Massospora cicadina.

How long do cicadas live above ground?

Depends on the species, but about a month in captivity based on observations made by friends, and slightly less or dramatically less in nature. Dramatically less because everything is trying to eat them.

What do cicadas sound like?

Depends on the species, but they sound like old TV or radio static, a broken air conditioner, a U.F.O. from a science fiction movie, a car alarm, a broken alarm clock, a power tool… Visit the cicada sounds page and listen for yourself.

Where are cicadas found?

Cicadas are found on every continent but Antarctica. There’s few countries and islands where you won’t find them, like Greenland or Bermuda, but most of the world has at least one species. In the USA, periodical cicadas are found in most states east of the Rocky mountains. Visit the Brood page to see where.

What do cicadas look like?

They’re insects, and like most insects, as adults, they have wings (4), six legs, an abdomen, a thorax and a head. Their head features five eyes (2 large compound eyes, and 3 tiny simple eyes), antennae, and a beak for drinking. Here’s a picture:

Magicicada septendecim Brood VII 2018

How do cicadas make noise?

Most male cicadas make sound by rapidly vibrating a membrane called a tymbal. It’s like a tiny drum. See a picture of a tymbal. Some females & males make sounds by flicking their wings. There’s also a third way cicadas make sounds.

How big are cicadas?

Periodical cicadas are about 1 to 1.5 inches long. Other species are as small as a half-inch or as long as 3 inches with 8-inch wingspans.

Why do cicadas come out?

Cicadas come out of the ground to mate with other cicadas and create the next generation of cicadas. That is it.

May 15, 2021

“Cicada Love Call” by Toby T. Swift

Filed under: Music — Dan @ 10:13 am

In our tradition of letting you know about cicada-themed songs, here’s “Cicada Love Call” by Toby T. Swift.

From Broadway World:

In “Cicada Love Call,” Swift’s ex-wife shows up on his front porch, “just like a bug,” 17 years after leaving him for another man. Now she wants to get back together with him, but he’s having none of it.

Love is strange — kinda like cicadas.

It’s available on Amazon, Spotify and Apple / iTunes.

May 10, 2021

The Cicada Olympics: Engaging Kids in Live Insect Activities

Filed under: Books | Community Science — Dan @ 10:49 am

Hey! There’s a new cicada book out for Kids. Looks fun. The Cicada Olympics: Engaging Kids in Live Insect Activities. by Cynthia ‘Cindy’ Smith, Ph.D. & Richard Grover. It is available on Kindle or Paperback.

Description of the book:

In 2021, a special kind of cicada will emerge – the Brood X. This is the first time these cicadas will dig out of the soil in 17 years! This book, by Cindy Smith, Ph.D. and Richard Groover, Ph.D., will equip you with age-appropriate information to make this a fun learning opportunity for your children. The authors have made the learning activities streamlined and easy to implement for individuals and groups. Within these pages, you’ll find: 13 fun cicada activities with instructions and materials list, parent and volunteer information, cicada jokes, pictures, and online resources

May 3, 2021

Be cautious and considerate when looking for Brood X cicadas

Filed under: Brood X | Community Science — Dan @ 6:34 pm

Brood X will emerge in 2021, and people will want to travel to see and hear them. Should you decide to travel to witness Brood X or any cicada emergence in the U.S., be cautious and considerate of the following:

Be respectful of private property

Periodical cicadas thrive in neighborhoods and campuses with old hardwood trees and grass lawns, as you’ll find in places like Princeton, New Jersey. Don’t traipse and trample onto private property without permission and always visit local parks, instead of neighborhoods, when possible.

Observe local laws and customs

This should go without saying: obey local laws. Do not: litter, trespass, speed, j-walk, etc. Don’t give cicada fans a bad name.

Be prepared to practice social distancing and to wear a mask, even if just as a courtesy. I noticed that even outdoors in public parks, people in New Jersey wear masks.

Do not bring Spotted Lanternflies home with you

Spotted Lanternflies are true bugs, just like cicadas, but they are very, very destructive pests and an “invasive species”. Like the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website says, they “cause serious damage including oozing sap, wilting, leaf curling, and dieback in trees, vines, crops and many other types of plants”! They kill the trees cicadas call home.

Pennsylvania and western New Jersey are loaded with Spotted Lanternflies, so if you travel to those states to see Brood X cicadas, make sure you check your vehicle and belongings for Lanternfly hitchhikers. Don’t bring them home with you. At this time of year, I believe they are still in their black phase.

Spotted Lanternfly Sign
This sign is downloadable from the USDA website.

And squash them all — for the good of the forest and cicadas.

More info at the USDA website.

Protect yourself from ticks

Long Island (NY), New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and nearby states are loaded with Lyme Disease carrying Blacklegged/Deer Ticks. I’ve known people who have Lyme Disease and it practically ruined their lives. Unfortunately, ticks are found in the same areas as cicadas, like parks, yards, and forests. The CDC website has tips for preventing tick bites on people that I highly recommend you read and follow their tips. I personally wear pyrethrum-treated clothes when outdoors in New Jersey.

From the website:
Lyme Ticks

May 2, 2021

Different types of Magicicada periodical cicada holes

Filed under: Brood X | Chimneys | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 5:19 pm

Different types of Magicicada periodical cicada holes found in Princeton, NJ. Brood X, 2021. Generally speaking, their holes are about the size of a dime. You won’t see a spray or kickback of soil around the hole like you would when an animal is digging into the soil rather than coming out of it (cicadas are coming out).

Typical dime-sized cicada holes

Typical Holes

A hole with a corresponding mini cicada-chimney

Here's a hole and cap

A golf ball sized chimney over a hole

Mud Golf Ball

A hole borrowed into a hay bale laying on the ground

Hole in Hay

A hole in moss

A hole in moss

Holes in the underside of a rotten log, with a nymph!

Cicadas will burrow up from the soil of the ground and keep going into the rotting wood of a rotten log! I had to roll the log over to see it.
Holes in a Log

The inside view of a 4″ cicada chimney


Video of a Nymph

April 19, 2021

17-year cicada cross word puzzle

Filed under: Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 6:02 pm

Want to try a 17-year cicada crossword puzzle? It isn’t easy.

Download a large version of the image with the hints. Or use the one on this page:

Cicada Cross Word Puzzle

2. Two of them are…
7. Mistaken identity
8. Soil temperature sampler
10. Insect Singers site
11. The cicada’s old outfit
13. Where you’ll find the arches.
15. Keep a lid on it.
17. Longest lifecycle.
22. Ohio expert
24. Five.
27. Never on time.
28. A delicious drink.
29. I’m seeing red.
30. Grill.
31. 5 steps.
33. Final form.
35. Seven is the smallest.

1. Un-popped collar.
3. Four to get off the Floor.
4. A “cool” cicada expert.
5. Three of Five.
6. Youngsters.
9. Plates
12. A rare color.
14. Nest knife.
16. Pitch shifter
18. Left Connecticut forever
19. Drum kit.
20. Amphetamine fungus.
21. Cicada banners.
23. Keep hanging on.
25. Mr. Softy.
26. Just six of these.
32. Beak.
34. Connecticut lab leader

Answers are here.

I used the Discovery Education Puzzlemaker to create this.

April 18, 2021

Cicada Mania BINGO for Brood X 2021

Filed under: Cicada Mania | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 5:48 am

Here’s something fun: Cicada Mania BINGO. Use this BINGO card to keep track of everything you see, hear or do in context to the Brood X emergence. Here’s a PDF version. Tips below the image of the card:

Cicada Mania


  1. Pictures of cicada Holes and Chimneys
  2. Magicicada septendecim photos & song
  3. A cicada with white eyes
  4. Cicadas with blue and yellow eyes
  5. Video of Cicada Nymphs at Night
  6. Cicadas with Massospora cicadina fungus infections
  7. Magicicada septendecula photos & songs
  8. Cicada eggs and young nymphs
  9. Are cicadas safe to eat?
  10. Magicicada cassini photos & songs
  11. Video of a cicada laying eggs
  12. Links to the Cicada Safari app.
  13. Cicada songs, including Choruses
  14. Wing Flicks Videos

I’ll probably do a version for summertime cicadas too.

Periodical cicada nymphs emerging at night

Filed under: Brood XIII | Magicicada | Molting | Nymphs | Periodical — Tags: — Dan @ 5:29 am

One of the most fun periodical cicada experiences is watching thousands of nymphs emerge from the ground at night, crawl to the nearest vertical surface (hopefully a tree) and begin to molt.

This is a video by Roy Troutman from 2007 of the Brood XIII emergence, specifically in Ryerson Woods in Illinois:

Observing magicicada emergence at Ryerson Woods from Roy Troutman on Vimeo.

Here’s a time-lapse video, also by Roy, of a cicada nymph molting:

Magicicada nymph molting from Roy Troutman on Vimeo.

April 17, 2021

Magicicada wing flicks

Filed under: Magicicada | Sounds — Dan @ 7:59 pm

Female Magicicada cicadas do not sing, but they do make a sound by flicking their wings. These percussive wing flicks get the attention of male cicadas and it compels them to sing their court songs in response.

Here’s a video of a female cicada flicking her wings:

A video of a group of female cicadas flicking their wings in a tree:

You can fool male cicadas into thinking a finger snap is a wing flick. Here’s a video of a male cicada calling in response to fake wing flicks:

New Book: The Cicadas Are Coming!: Invasion of the Periodical Cicadas!

Filed under: Books — Dan @ 10:39 am

A new photo-illustrated periodical cicada book for kids will be available on April 26th: The Cicadas Are Coming!: Invasion of the Periodical Cicadas! by Doug Wechsler. I haven’t see it yet, but it looks promising.

It’s available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Cicadas are Coming


When a million bugs come out of the ground at once, children pay attention. Periodical cicadas don’t disappoint. Almost every animal in the area fills its stomach. Then after a month the feast and the cacophony suddenly stops.

This book is about one of the oddest insect life cycles on the planet the periodical or 17-year cicada.

The beautiful photographs and engaging text bring to life every aspect of this insect’s life from a unique view of the eggs inside a twig, to its transformation to the noisiest insect around. Author Doug Wechsler, once again, brings the natural world into focus for children.

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