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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.


  1. Jon Nelson says:

    Frost line around here is 48 inches. I am reading that cicadas burrow only about 24 inches. Do cicadas freeze solid?… 16 times??

  2. Paperball says:

    What happens if cicadas are feeding on the roots of a tree that dies or gets cut down between emergences? Do the cicadas also die?

  3. LS says:

    Is it okay to help cicadas that are flapping around on their backs?

Leave a comment. Questions about plants or snakes are deleted.

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