What to expect from this summer’s cicada emergence

If you haven’t seen a cicada yet, there’s a strong chance that you will soon. Or at least hear one, for that matter—because this year, the cicada emergence is twice the fun.

Brood XIX, which features four species of 13-year cicadas, spans much of Missouri, southern Illinois and Arkansas and extends eastward to Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia and southward to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Simultaneously, Brood XIII, which will have 17-year cicadas, will cover parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northwestern Indiana and, possibly, the southern edge of Michigan. The last time XIX and XIII co-emerged was in 1803—the year the Louisiana Purchase was signed, Ohio was admitted as the 17th U.S. State and Lewis and Clark met.

The simultaneous emergence of these broods will likely cause higher than normal cicada activity, even if you travel outside of Missouri or Kansas. But Missouri Department of Conservation forest entomologist Robbie Doerhoff says that some areas of Missouri and Kansas may be more saturated with the insect than others.

“Nymphs and adults feed on deciduous trees, so the native trees that lose their leaves in the fall and native species,” Doerhoff says. “A healthy habitat for a periodical cicada is going to be forested with a lot of native species and no pesticides.” That means you’re way more likely to have a brood run-in if you live out in woody areas versus, say, Brookside.

The cacophony of loud, screeching hums that you hear around trees in the summertime? That’s the chorused mating call of male cicadas, signaling their quest for mates to start the species’ life cycle over again. While these sounds are harmless to humans, they’re far from subtle. In fact, the calls can reach up to 100 decibels, similar to the sound of a running lawn mower, Doerhoff says. If you have any intimate outdoor events this summer where sound quality is crucial (like a wedding), this is definitely something to keep in mind.

Cicadas shouldn’t bother you aside from that. They don’t bite or sting, and they don’t care to seek shelter, so they won’t hide out in your house or garage like a ladybug or stink bug would. They also don’t care about your vegetable garden as other pests do—they’ll stick to sucking sweet sap out of deciduous trees.

Doerhoff does urge people to keep an eye on pets around cicadas. If your pet gets its paw on a cicada and ingests it, they may have issues digesting it due to the high protein content of the bugs. “Cicadas are also pretty crunchy, especially once they dry from their molting phase,” she says. The sharp texture could potentially irritate a dog or cat’s digestive tract. If you notice anything concerning about your pet after a cicada run-in, promptly seek help.

The cicadas will die out after about four weeks of life above ground, and then they’ll decompose, providing a nutrient boost to the soil that will promote tree growth in the years to come. “From a nature and ecosystem perspective, [cicadas] are actually a really good thing.” Doerhoff says. “I’d encourage people to celebrate them for how cool they are.”  


1. They hatch from an egg.

2. They burrow underground. There, they’ll drink from plant roots to survive. 

3. They emerge from the underground as adults.

4. Male cicadas make mating calls to attract females.

5. Males and females mate.

6. Females lay fertilized eggs. Those eggs will eventually burrow beneath the soil, where they hatch and stay for 13 to 17 years, depending on the cicada variety.

7. The cycle begins again!

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