The periodical cicadas: Millions of them seem to be emerging in parts of the United States after spending over 15 years underground


Cicadas, also called ‘locusts’, are from the taxonomic order Hemipteram suborder Auchenorrhyncha, while locusts are grasshoppers belonging to the order Orthoptera.

The cicadas have spent seventeen underground. Now millions of them seem to be emerging in parts of the United States in early summer. The last time they were seen was in 2003 and 2004. Even in 2013, they were seen.

It should be noted that as many as 1.5 million of the insects can appear per acre of land. Some of the insects are longest-lives while some are periodical. The periodical cicadas spent most of their time in underground.

This is why entomologists even name them as “nymphs”. For either thirteen or seventeen years they live in the soil and feed on trees for periods. This observation has been carried out by Virginia Tech University. Therefore, according to their seventeen-year cycle, they are supposed to emerge now.

How to know if they are about to emerge?

The cicadas will build mud trees, also called the cicada hut. They build it in the soil and crawl out in search of a place to mold into their winged adult form and to breed. They are harmless insects and can be food sources for birds and animals.

Basically they live up to two to four weeks as adults. They nonetheless damage the young trees where the female cicadas lay their eggs.

The male cicadas are very loud. Virginia Tech University describes their sound as “field of out-of-tune radios”.

They actually vibrate their membranes on their stomach when they court the females. Eric Day, an entomologist the Virginia Tech University says “They’re big, they’re noisy.”

Some researchers highly believe that they emerge after a particular cycle under the soil apparently to escape from predators. There exist other kinds of cicadas, called the annual cicadas or dog-day.