When Is Cicada Season?

When Are The Cicadas Coming?

The answer to this question is dependent upon location and the respective species of cicadas that are found there.

Location

If you live in Kentucky, the answer to our question is different than if you live in Pennsylvania.

Species

The difference relates to when groups of cicada nymphs come out of their developmental habitat in the ground and soon after emergence become flying, mature adult cicadas.

Cicada Life Cycle

To better understand why the appearance of cicadas varies, we need to look at their typical life cycle.

Stages of Life

The cicada’s life cycle is one of incomplete metamorphosis, meaning the insect goes through three developmental stages:

  • Egg

  • Nymph

  • Adult

Eggs

Mature male and female adults mate and the female lays her fertilized eggs in slits she cuts in twigs and branches of trees and shrubs.

The eggs laid by the female cicada begin hatching about six weeks after they are laid and the nymphs drop to the soil surface and burrow underground where they spend almost all of the time it takes to complete their nymphal development.

Nymphs

When the long, underground nymphal stage is complete, mature nymphs burrow upwards to the soil surface and crawl up a tree trunk or some vertical object.

Adults

Here the adult cicada emerges, leaving behind the nymphal shell, mating and producing fertile eggs that begin the next generation of cicadas.

Types of Cicadas

Dog Day Cicadas

Most species of cicadas in North America are classified in the genus Neotibicen and are commonly called the annual cicada, jar fly or dog-day cicada.

These cicada nymphs emerge from their ground habitat in June-August after completing a life cycle of 1-5 years. They can be troublesome, but not like the other genus of North American cicadas – Magicicada – the periodical cicadas.

Periodical Cicadas

These cicadas emerge from the ground after completing life cycles that are 13 or 17 years. In general, cicadas follow their respective nymph emergent 13 or 17 year time frames.

There is some variation since not all members of a population are at the same stage of nymph development and may emerge either ahead or behind their 13 or 17 year schedule – a phenomenon called straggling.

Periodical Cicadas

Populations of periodical cicadas called broods show up in the same areas as their parents who preceded them by 13 or 17 years and cicada experts assign a specific Roman numeral to each brood in order to track and predict their expected emergence. The 17-year cicada broods are designated as broods I through XVII, while the 13-year cicada broods are designated as XVIII through XXX.

Cicada Forecasting

If you are interested in knowing when the next brood of periodical cicadas is schedule to show up, check out your State’s University Extension Service since they can provide a cicada “forecast” for your area and state. By doing so you will be prepared for huge numbers of swarming, noisy and periodical cicadas that show up for their scheduled arrival.

Resources

Dig Deeper on Cicadas

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