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 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).


News & Updates re: Brood X

  • ARTICLE A great summary by the Entomological Society of America re: Brood X impact, coverage by media, tracking apps, interviews with leading experts, and even a music video! Aug 12, 2021, ESA
  • VIDEO (00:02:30) Great quality footage and overview, and a University of MD. Emeritus professor describing them as ‘delightful‘. SOURCE: May 17 2021, Reuters
  • One of my favorite other ‘hats’ is being an Entomology educator for K-5 and guest speaker for Education students who are doing their teaching practica. I was serving in this role last week, and thought I should mention cicadas to the kids, just in case. The morning after our Zoom visit, the teacher sent this picture of a newly eclosed cicada they spotted on a tree. Great catch, Little Wolverines, and I’m so proud of you for being observant!!

3 thoughts on “Cicadas: Chorus or Curse?

  1. I Always interested in insects and their life cycle and eating habits. most interesting things that amazes me is how these tiny things made sounds. Although great article and provided insights.


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