Where Do Cicadas Live?

Common Cicada Habitats

Worldwide environments where cicadas live include:

  • Tropical rainforests
  • Desert scrub
  • Temperate season forests

Within the region of the world located north of Mexico there are about 170 different cicada species that include both the annual, dog-day cicadas and the periodical cicadas that have a 13 or 17-year life cycle.

Since the majority of the cicada’s life cycle is spent underground as nymphs, cicadas are not prevalent in areas such as agricultural fields and new home construction since plowing and moving soil to level the ground around a new home interferes with the normal development of cicadas.

Another factor associated with where cicadas live relates to the habitats that nymph and adult stage cicadas occupy.

Generally, periodical cicadas are found east of the Mississippi River with the 13-year cicadas found in the more southern states and the 17-year cicadas found in the more northern states.

Adult Habitats

Adult cicada habitats are the crown, trunk and small twigs of trees and woody shrubs.

Cicada adults fly, come together to mate and the females cut small slits in the tender twigs and small branches of their host plants where they lay eggs inside the slits.

The preferred host plants are deciduous trees and plants, rather than coniferous plant species.

Adults live above ground for about three to four weeks before dying. One of the telltale signs of adult cicadas is the constant noise made by the males in order to attract the females to mate.

Nymph Habitats

The cicada eggs hatch about six to seven weeks after the female lays the eggs.

The first instar (instar is the particular life stage of the insect) nymphs that hatched from the eggs drop to the ground where they burrow to about one inch beneath the soil surface and at this stage may feed on the roots of grasses.

As their development proceeds to the next instars, the nymphs burrow deeper underground and begin to feed on the deeper roots of trees and woody shrubs.

As the time passes prior to their reemergence above ground as mature nymphs, they will continue to feed on roots until they emerge, crawl up the trunk of a tree or woody shrub and break out of their nymphal shell to become mature adult cicadas.