So you head outside for some much needed rest and relaxation on the front porch. A tall glass of iced tea or lemonade while lounging in a nice comfy swing or a hammock or maybe a cushioned Adirondack is just the right setting for a peaceful meditation zone. You are snuggled into your chair and just took a nice long drink of your beverage, when out of nowhere a VERY loud screeching noise begins. “WHAT is THAT??”, you ask…well it isn’t your neighbor mowing and it isn’t a conversion van overheating. The annoying sound, which stands a good chance of interrupting your peace and quiet this year, is actually an insect…the 13-year cicada to be exact. Chances are very good that it is not just one, this species only emerges every 13 years, and when they do, it is like an alien invasion!!
Most of us are familiar with annual cicadas and if you haven’t seen the insect itself, maybe you have seen the hollow shell left behind on the tree.:
The pictures to the left is of an annual cicada, not the 13-year cicada, which will have a dark or almost black body with reddish eyes. Annual cicadas do not appear in large numbers and are quite a bit larger than the 13-year cicadas. The swarms of cicadas which are now waking up in Missouri have not emerged since 1998. The offspring of the cicadas which emerged 13 years ago have been patiently residing beneath the soil, waiting to emerge this year. They are fascinating little creatures, actually. The nymph (or young insect) will reside beneath the soil until their internal alarm clock alerts them to emerge from the soil. They will dig their way out of the ground, climb up the nearest structure (tree, wall, flower pot or any other vertical surface), attach to the surface and morph into the adult noise-maker…er, uh, wonderful little insect. Once they are fully developed, they will emerge from their shell and hang to dry their wings.
They might be smaller, but they are just as loud and since they will be in high numbers, swarms in some areas, the noise can be somewhat deafening.
They are a scientific anomaly, no one knows what stimulates them to this timely pattern. While a few will be late and may emerge next year, the sheer numbers of those emerging on time will provide food for a wide variety of predatory animals. The idea is that if there are an excessive amount of them, the better the chances that a few will escape predation and live to breed and deposit eggs for the 2024 “invasion”. Other than their annoying sound, they are relatively harmless and they won’t do a major amount of damage to plant life. Before you decide to pack up your house and move to a “non-cicada” state, rest assured they will only be here for 4-6 weeks.
So don’t worry, they won’t harm your beautiful plants, they won’t be here long and they won’t be back for another 13 years….maybe we will survive the “invasion”!!
And, as always,