17 Year Locusts Return


A huge number of cicadas,growing underground since 1996, are about to emerge along much of the U.S. East Coast to begin passionately singing and mating as their remarkable life cycle restarts.  Magicicada septendecim, should arrive in late May or June.

Their emergence produces such overwhelming numbers at once that predators, such as birds, spiders, snakes, and even dogs, can’t eat them all.

Every 17th year, a few weeks before emerging, the cicadas build exit tunnels to the surface. When the soil temperature exceeds 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius), nymphs leave their burrows, usually after sunset, settle on a nearby tree or shrub, and start their final molt to adulthood.

Although boisterous, cicadas do not sting or bite, and they aren’t harmful to crops. But they may cause damage to young, small trees or shrubs, if too many feed from the plants or lay eggs in their twigs.

After mating occurs, females lay their eggs on twigs; the eggs hatch later in the season, and the nymphs drop to the ground and burrow underground to restart the 17-year cycle. They are next due in 2030.

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