Brood X has emerged in Princeton, New Jersey, but the weather is currently not great for cicadas: less than 50Â°F and rainy. Undaunted, I visited Princeton yesterday to observe Magicicada cicada behavior on a cold, rainy day.
I arrived at Princeton Battleground State Park around 3:30 PM and immediately head to the short trees and tall weeds, like honeysuckle, that line the perimeter of the park. I was pleased to see hundreds of cicadas clinging to the leaves, stems, and branches of the plants — seemingly without extra effort or discomfort. Many were weighted down by droplets of rain, which seemed to roll off their bodies and bead on their wings like translucent pearls.
Even though temperatures were below 50Â°F (9Â°C) I did hear an occasional distress call, and saw plenty of cicadas mating — perhaps they started mating before the rain and cold weather began. No flying. No calls, chorusing, or wing flicks.
Other than thousands of seemingly healthy but (patient) cicadas hanging from vegetation, there were plenty of malformed cicadas on the trunks of larger trees, and piles of exuvia and corpses circling tree trunks. The air around trees stank like ammonia and rotting fat and meat — not unlike a dumpster behind a burger restaurant.
I saw mostly Magicicada septendecim and some Magicicada cassini. No apparent Magicicada septendecula. I saw just one M. Septendecim infected with Massospora cicadina fungus. While there was plenty of avian activity in the area, I did not see any birds or other creatures feast on the docile or dead cicada — maybe I scared them away — maybe their appetites were satiated.
Cicadas dripping with rain:
M. Septendecim infected with Massospora cicadina fungus:
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.
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 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).
Playlists contain multiple videos found on YouTube.
M. septendecim is the largest of the 17-Year species. Its abdomen has thick orange stripes. It has orange coloring between its eye and wing. Its song sounds like “Wee-Oh”, “Pharaoh” and a group of them are said to sound like a “UFO from a science fiction movie”.
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.Â A molecular phylogeny of the cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) with a review of tribe and subfamily classification.Â 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.