Pest Identification: Cicada
Most Common Types
There are about 2,500 different species of cicada. The most common are 13-year cicadas, or Magicicada tredecim, and 17-year cicadas, or Magicicada septendecim. In North America there are also 150 species of non-periodic cicadas, or annual cicadas, which have unsynchronized development, so some emerge every year.
What They Look Like
Adult cicadas can be ¾ to 2 inches in length. They have black bodies, red eyes, and orange wing veins, and a black “W” near the tips of the forewings. Male cicadas attract females by rubbing together drum-like organs called tymbals which produce loud metallic sounds up to 95 decibels, the loudest sound produced by any insect.
Where They Live
Cicadas are found throughout the world but are most prevalent in the Americas, Australia, and Africa.
Where They Nest
Female cicadas lay rice-shaped eggs under twigs and plant stems. After 6 to 10 weeks, the eggs hatch into nymphs which drop to the ground, burrow into the soil, and dig into tree and plant roots where they suck sap through their straw-like mouths. Thirteen or 17 years later, depending on the periodical cicada species, the nymphs tunnel to the surface, shed their skin a final time, and emerge as winged adults. Cicadas only live 2 to 4 weeks while feeding on plant sap and carrying out their mating cycle.
Steps to Prevent
When Magicicada hatch, their numbers can reach 30 billion, or 1.5 million cicadas per acre. There is no way to prevent their emergence.
Are They Harmful?
Cicadas are not harmful to humans and are beneficial to the environment, providing food for birds, frogs, turtles, snakes, mice, and even dogs and cats. However, when they die, their corpses can create a temporary mess on trails, roads, forest floors, and in backyards.