They are coming. Millions of them. Set to invade most every city, town and back yard in Northeastern Ohio. The 17-year Cicadas are about to hatch.
Cicadas are 2-inch long flying insects...some are green and brown. Some are black with gold wings... And big eyes! They spend most of their lives...some years at a time... underground, gently feeding on the sap from plant roots. But, at the end of their lives they emerge to mate and live above ground for 4 to 6 weeks.
There are several different species of Cicada. Some have a one year life cycle. These are called the annual or Dog Day Cicadas. We see many of these emerge every year in late July or early August.
Others live 13 or 17 years. These are the periodic cicadas. The biggest broods are the 17-year Cicadas...and this is their year!
What's more: this year is the BIGGEST batch of the 17-year Cicada family. Its Brood V. They last showed up in 1999 across Northern Ohio...by the millions. So, they are due to hatch again very soon. In fact, once the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees, they will leave their dark, rooty space underground and emerge. This should occur in mid to late May! The map below shows (RED) the area where Brood V will emerge next month:
The crawling beetle-like bug with then climb the nearest tree or fence post to finish their transformation. Their shells dry. And the adult, flying insect then breaks out and flies away to find a mate.
Cicadas are known by their high, shrill buzzing sound. Its the males that make that sound. The females are silent.
Once mating occurs, the female Cicada can lay up to 400 to 600 eggs. The eggs are laid, a couple of dozen at a time, in small slits in tender branches of trees and shrubs. Once the eggs hatch 6 to 10 weeks later, the nymphs drop to the ground and burrow as much as 18 inches below the surface to begin the next cycle.
Cicadas don't bite or harm people. But, unfortunately they are damaging to trees and shrubs. The process of egg laying kills the branch tips. You will notice the presence of the cicada by the hundreds of wilted branch tips on your neighborhood trees in May and early June.
For local tree and shrubs growers around Northern Ohio, the cicadas can devastate fields and acres of plant material. Many crops of shade trees and shrubs will have to be dug up, destroyed and replanted. A process that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. All because of the mysterious insect called the Cicada!