Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cicadas are not fun!

It is the year of the Cicadas.  I have all my life called these things locusts, but apparently I have been wrong.  I have no idea what the difference is but I guess there is one. 

Anyway, here is one of the lovely creatures.  Please notice the red bulging eyes.

Here are several of the shells on one of our trees.  The one in the middle is hatching. Or whatever you call it when it comes out of its shell.
Cicadas come visit in droves once every thirteen years depending on what article you read. Some say seventeen years.  We have lived here for almost 6 years and this is our first experience with them so time will tell.  I have seen some here last year but only a few.  Now there are MILLIONS!  I am not sure that I am exaggerating.  They fly around and land on you.  They are very annoying but I don't think they bite.  If I understand it correctly they come out of the ground as nymphs when the ground temps reach 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  They crawl up and tree and shed their skin.  I have always called these shells. 

Here is another picture of some of the shells.  We have many large trees on our two acre property.  They are this thick on every tree and fence.
After they come out of their shells, they are everywhere.  They fly around, they sit on the deck rails, and they make lots of noise and mess.  Here are some on the tree.

Then, they mate.  The male cicadas make a sound to attract the females.  This sound by itself is not very loud but when you get the hundreds and hundreds of them together it can reach up to 85 decibels.  In case you don't know, that is very loud!!  Louder than a jet airplane. They only make this noise for about 10 hours a day.  The mating period lasts about four weeks.

After they mate, the females lay their eggs in trees and then they die.  Oh my, do they die.  They land dead everywhere.  I sweep hundreds off my front deck every day.  They are all over the yard and guess what?  As they decay... they smell!  It stinks so bad.

The cicadas in this picture of my front deck are alive.  They crawl back and forth down this rail all day long.

About six to ten weeks after the eggs are laid, they hatch into tiny nymphs about the size on an ant.  Then they crawl underground and live for thirteen years until the cycle starts all over again.

I have just the last couple of days been noticing a decrease in the number of cicadas on my porch and also a slight lowering of the decibel level.  I am hoping they are on their way back underground.  I will be marking my calendar for May/June of 2024 so I can go on a long vacation!!