Cicadas are flying, plant-eating insects most well-known for their loud singing. They are TOTALLY HARMLESS to humans and all other animals. Cicadas of the Genus Magicada, such as the Periodic Cicada, have a synchronized life cycle, so that all individuals of this species emerge the same year every 17 years. Most people think that cicadas are a type of locust, but they are not.
Underground, the juvenile cicadas eat by sucking fluids from tree roots. A few weeks before emerging, they dig exit tunnels about 1/2" in diameter. In the evening upon emergence, the juveniles will leave the ground and crawl up the closest vegetation where they will molt their skin and become adults. They will rest for about 6 hours, waiting for their wings to harden.
Adult males will then gather in groups in high, sunlit places to attract females by singing. Mated females will then lay y-shaped eggnests in twigs, about 20 eggs per nest. She can lay up to 600 eggs total!!!! After about 6-10 weeks, the eggs hatch and the nymphs crawl to the ground, burrow, locate a nice root for sucking and settle down for their 17 year wait.
Q: Will the cicadas kill my trees?
A: Don't fret! Though it may look like your tree is in danger with a bunch of cicadas on it, it is rare that they will do major damage. In fact, they often help the tree by getting rid of the weakest twigs. If you have a prize tree that you want to keep the cicadas off, try covering it with a fine mesh such as cheesecloth. DO NOT SPRAY with pesticides! Not only will you kill the harmless cicadas, but also other good bugs and will cause your garden and the environment damage.
Q: Do cicadas bite or sting?
A: NO! Cicadas are totally harmless to humans and animals. If you hold one, you will feel its prickly feet, but it is not biting you.
Q: Why don't I see any? They are supposed to be here.
A: Cicadas are only in areas with deciduous trees; they are not in everyone's backyard.
Q: How do they make such a loud noise?
A: Males cicadas sing by using a pair of ridged membranes on their abdomen, which is hollow and acts as a resonating chamber. Female cicadas can not produce sound. A bunch of males singing together can be as loud as standing next to a lawnmower!!!