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Cicada Life Cycle and Appearance Facts

Protect your home or business from cicadas by learning techniques for identification and control.

Cicada Illustration
Family Cicadidae

Treatment

How do I get rid of cicadas?

What You Can Do

Avoid using insecticides since cicadas will come to your plants from locations outside your property in such large numbers that spraying is of little benefit. Some effective non-chemical methods of cicada treatment include:

  • By Hand - Picking adults and nymphs off plants by hand, if found in small enough numbers.

  • Garden Hose - Knocking cicadas off plants by spraying water with a garden hose.

  • Foil & Barrier Tape - Wrapping tree trunks and large bushes with foil or sticky bands (barrier tape) to catch cicadas trying to move up plants to feed or lay eggs.

  • Netting - Protecting young or valuable plants by covering them with netting.

Chemical treatments generally are not required for use on homeowner properties. Since cicadas complete their nymphal stage in the ground, emerge and become adults who live for only about 2-4 weeks, soil treatment with chemicals is usually not worthwhile unless cicadas are active in a commercial orchard or ornamental plant nursery.

Additionally, chemical treatments have little to no effect on "migrating populations," as the pests often move to one’s property from adjacent, untreated and infested locations.

Cicada Brood 2024: Periodical Cicada Emergence

In the spring of 2024, the United States will have the emergence of Broods XIX and XIII, two distinct groups of cicadas that are set to appear after spending years underground. Brood XIX will be appearing after 13 years while Brood XIII will emerge after 17 years. These pests are not harmful to humans.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Cicadas

Appearance

  • Length: Adult cicadas vary in size depending upon the particular species, but are generally about 2-3 inches long.

  • Wings: They have large, clear wings with many easily seen wing veins. The cicada’s immature stage, called the nymph, is wingless.

  • Eyes: Their eyes are large, reddish or black and set apart on each side of the head.

Annual vs. Periodical

There are two basic groups of cicadas: annual vs. periodical. Most species of cicadas in the U.S. are annual cicadas, meaning cicada season occurs every year.

While annual cicadas complete their life cycle and emerge from the soil habitat every year, Periodical cicadas emerge at either a 13 or 17-year interval. Periodical cicadas are so predictable that charts are created to forecast when and in what states they will appear.

Cicada "Singing"

Males make loud, shrill calls that some residents find annoying. Cicada "singing" can be heard for up to 1/2 mile away, making cicadas the loudest of any other insect in the U.S.

Life Cycle

Eggs

The female adult cicada lays eggs on trees and shrubs by inserting the eggs into the small twigs at the outer end of branches. Eggs hatch in about 40-60 days and become nymphs.

Nymphs

Nymphs drop to the ground, burrow about 1 – 2 feet into the soil where they feed on the fluids in the small roots of the host plant. Mature nymphs emerge from the soil, climb onto surrounding trees or shrubs and mature into adults. Soil temperatures of 64 degrees trigger emergence of the nymphs.

Adults

Adults live for about 14-50 days during which time they mate, lay eggs, and die.

Predators

One of the most impressive cicada predators is the cicada killer wasp, a burrowing insect that looks like a huge yellow jacket. During the time of year that adult cicadas are active, cicada killer wasps are often seen either carrying or burying a cicada that was paralyzed by the wasp’s sting.

More Information

Do Cicadas Bite?

How Long Do Cicadas Live?

What Do Cicadas Eat?

When is Cicada Season?

Where Do Cicadas Live?

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