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There is a buzz in the air, no pun intended. Anticipation is growing, not just metaphorically, regarding the emergence of the Cicada brood this spring. An astonishing number, running into the billions, of these insects are set to surface across the Midwest and southeastern regions of the United States through May and June. Cicadas will not be making an appearance in Central New York!

What is a cicada?

According to Cicadamania.com, Cicadas (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cicadidae) are true bug insects, best known for the songs sung by most, but not all, male cicadas. Males sing by flexing their tymbals, drum-like organs in their abdomens. Small muscles rapidly pull the tymbals in and out of shape. The sound is intensified by the cicada’s mostly hollow abdomen.

Female and some male cicadas will also make a sound by flicking their wings, but it isn’t the same as the sound for which cicadas are known. Listen to some of the songs cicadas sing.

There are over 190 varieties (including species & subspecies) of cicadas in North America and over 3,390 varieties of cicadas around the world. This number grows each year as researchers discover and document new species. Cicadas exist on every continent but Antarctica.

Do cicadas bite or sting?

Technically cicadas don’t bite or sting; they do, however, pierce and suck. They might try to pierce and suck you but don’t worry, they aren’t Vampires, nor are they malicious or angry — they’re just ignorant and think you’re a tree. Just remove the cicada from your person and go about your business. Cicadas also have pointy feet, egg-laying parts (ovipositors), and other sharp parts that might feel like a bite.

Cicadas don’t have jaws (mandibles) like a wasp, mantis, or ant, built to tear and chew flesh. Cicadas don’t have stingers, like bees and wasps, meant to deploy venom and paralyze or otherwise harm their victim. See a video of a Japanese hornet to see what I mean.

Cicadas obtain sustenance by drinking tree fluids, which are relatively watery compared to human blood. Drinking human blood would probably kill a cicada. (Cicada Mania FAQs)

Why is this cicada emergence such a newsworthy event?

Cicadas are making headlines in a big way, both in numbers and in sound!

This year’s dual emergence is a once-in-a-lifetime event. While any given 13-year brood and 17-year brood can occasionally emerge at the same time, each specific pair will see their cycles aligned only once every 221 years. What’s more, this year’s cicada groups, known as Brood XIII and Brood XIX, happened to make their homes adjacent to one another, with a narrow overlap in central Illinois.

“Thomas Jefferson was president the last time these two broods came out, so is it rare? Yes,” said Gene Kritsky, an entomologist at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati and author of “A Tale of Two Broods,” a book about this year’s dual emergence that was published earlier this month.

After 2024, Brood XIII and Brood XIX cicadas won’t sync up their emergences again for another 221 years.

These types of cicadas are periodical insects that spend most of their lives underground, feeding on tree roots. After 13 years or 17 years, depending on their brood, the cicadas will tunnel to the surface to reach maturity and engage in a monthlong, noisy search for a mate.

When these insects emerge, they do so in big numbers. And they’re not exactly quiet in their mating frenzy. These insects are known to emit a high-pitched buzz, or mating song, that can reach up to 100 decibels — roughly equivalent to a motorcycle or jackhammer.

The insects themselves are harmless to humans, but with billions of them set to emerge from underground, it can make for a noisy few weeks before the cicadas reach the end of their life cycles. Once that happens, it can also mean a lot of insect carcasses scattered on the ground. (nbcnews.com)

Will the cicada brood impact New York State?

The people at silive.com ask the question: “So when are the cicadas coming to the Empire State?”

New Yorkers will have to head to other parts of the country, including parts of Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois, and Alabama, to see them up close, according to Cicadamania’s website. But, in the summer of 2025, Brood XIV will emerge across the Northeast. Cicadamania reported that the last time this brood came out was in 2008. Their reappearance will give New Yorkers a chance to witness another historical emergence.

The area closest to Central New York is the Tidewater region of Maryland and Virginia, south of Washington D.C. The 17-year Brood XIII emergence will occur in parts of five states centered around northern Illinois. However, Central New York, CNY, is home to the smallest Magicicada population, Brood XII, also called the Onondaga Brood. Brood XII bugs are on a 17-year clock, and their last emergence was in 2018. Pae wasn’t here in 2018, but she’s excited for the chance to witness this year’s unusual phenomenon up close. Evelyn Pae is a graduate student in environmental biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. 

“They’re not like normal cicadas that are green,” she said. “These ones especially look scary because they’ve got red eyes. They look a bit demonic. But they’re totally harmless. They don’t even really hurt the trees that they feed on.” (newyorkupstate.com)

Spring will soon be here, and so will springtime pests.

While we may not be getting the billions of cicadas raining down on us, we will no doubt be greeted by nature’s other awakening pests:

At All Pest Proz, we have been busy all winter, and now we are ready for spring! We provide pest and wildlife removal services in Central New York. Call us at 315-599-2001.

Pest control service in the Central New York area.

Resources: Cicadamania.com, Cicada Mania FAQs, nbcnews.com, silive.com, newyorkupstate.com

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