Another attention-grabber headline this month is the hatch of periodical cicadas in the eastern US. “Brood IX” is a 17-year assemblage that was expected, but there are “stragglers” from other groups of 13-year cicadas that are actually 4 years early. This year is unusual because the groups consist of many different species (all in genus Magicicada) and appear to be overlapping geographically. Confused yet? Me too, so I refer you to http://magicicada.org/magicicada/ if you’re interested.

Sounds are produced by specialized structures called tymbals, and can exceed 100 decibels! If you’ve never been lucky(?) enough to hear one, enjoy this video clip:

  • Cicadas are not ‘locusts’ ( which are a behavioral adaptation of grasshoppers). They’re more closely related to leafhoppers and spittlebugs.
  • Common cicadas have life cycles between 3 and 5 years. Nymphs (immatures) live underground and feed on tree roots.
  • If you see a green cicada, it is not a periodical species.
  • Emergence in the PNW may be related to rainfall: Chatfield-Taylor, W. and Cole, J.A. 2017. Living rain gauges: cumulative precipitation explains the emergence schedules of California protoperiodical cicadas. Ecology 98: 2521-2527.

We do, in fact, have cicadas in Oregon, but they do not occur at nuisance levels. There are ~ 30 species in our region; one of the most encountered is Okanagana oregona (pictured at right).

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