Cicadas have begun emerging by the thousands across the U.S. — pandemic be damned. In severe cases, homeowners may get a large infestation that harms trees.

Homeowners across the country have started to hear that familiar sound of summer nights: the cicada mating call. Cicadas have begun emerging by the thousands across the U.S., as they do every summer, to continue their life cycle — pandemic be damned.

Some people hail the cicada mating call, a sound called a “stridulation,” as the quintessential summer sound. Others, however, can be driven mad by the distinctive noise that can exceed 100 decibels (the equivalent of a motorcycle motor) and travel more than 100 miles away.

For light sleepers, ear plugs may become the essential summer accessory to keep the insect’s powerful sound in check.

As far as how cicadas might impact a homeowner’s property, the insect’s footprint is relatively minimal. They won’t invade homes (it’s possible one could sneak in by accident), they’re not venomous in any way and they don’t transmit diseases.

The sight of exoskeletons lying around might be alarming for homeowners, but it’s all part of the circle of life. In severe cases, homeowners may get a large infestation of cicadas that ends up harming trees, in which case, calling an exterminator would be appropriate.

There are two different types of the ‘musical’ insect: annual and periodical. Also, different “broods” emerge in different regions each year.

Cicadas that are emerging now in the South and on the East Coast are the periodical type, which spend 13 to 17 years maturing under ground and eating tree roots. Annual cicadas, on the other hand, only live about 2 to 5 years underground. Then, once ready, the cicadas emerge from underground and mate, typically when summer temperatures start getting warmer. The female cicadas then lay eggs, which hatch and travel underground. Adults typically only live about 1 month after their emergence into the open air.

The cicada’s exoskeleton | Photo credit: Michael Herren / Unsplash

Another signature sign of cicadas’ presence are the tan-colored skins they shed on trees. After their time spent maturing underground, cicadas climb the nearest tree to shed their exoskeleton in order to make way for their adult wings and skin.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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