Cicadas: A Dive into Their Habitat and Behavior

Cicadas: A Dive into Their Habitat and Behavior

Anyone who resides in the southeastern region of the US knows that summertime means higher humidity and the buzzing sound of insects. But what’s making that sound? It’s most likely a cicada! These insects, with their distinctive buzzing calls and unique lifecycles, are a fascinating subject of study and observation. Let’s dive into what cicadas are, their habitat, and what they do.

What are Cicadas?

Cicadas are large insects with transparent wings, prominent eyes, and often vibrant colors. They spend most of their lives underground as nymphs, feeding on tree roots. However, they emerge as adults in periodic cycles, typically every 13 to 17 years depending on the species, to mate and lay eggs.

What is the Habitat of a Cicada?

They inhabit a wide range of environments, from forests to tropical jungles, commonly found in regions with trees and shrubs, as their nymphs rely on plant roots for substance. Cicadas are particularly prevalent in areas with well-drained soil since they remain underground for long periods of time.

The Lifecycle and Behavior of Cicadas

After spending years underground, cicadas emerge synchronously in large numbers. This mass emergence, known as a brood, is thought to be an evolutionary strategy to overwhelm predators and increase the chances of successful mating.

Once above ground, adult cicadas spend their brief adulthood reproducing. Males will produce a distinctive buzzing call to attract females, which can reach deafening levels in volume. After mating, females will lay their eggs in tree branches, where the nymphs will hatch and drop to the ground to begin their underground existence.

The Importance of Cicadas

Despite their loud buzzing call, cicadas play an important role in the ecosystem. As both nymphs and adults, they serve as a food source for birds, mammals, and even other insects. Their emergence can also enrich the soil with nutrients as the decomposing bodies of deceased cicadas return vital nutrients back to the soil. They can also contribute to the pollination of plants during their adult stage, although to a lesser extent than bees or butterflies.

Although the buzzing sound of the emerged adult cicadas can reach high levels of sound, their adult lifespan is typically short lived and ends after they successfully mate. If you find your property surrounded by cicadas, give a  pest control company near you a call!

The Emergence of Two Cicada Broods: What to Look Out for in the Southeast

The Emergence of Two Cicada Broods: What to Look Out for in the Southeast

This spring, the Great Southern Brood and the Northern Illinois Brood are set to appear at the same time, also known as a dual emergence. The dual cicada emergence will affect the Midwest and Southeast, including Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. The last time a dual emergence occurred was in 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was president, and the Louisiana Purchase had just been completed. Let’s just say that when the next one happens, no one alive today will witness it!

What are Cicadas?

These large insects live underground as nymphs for years and emerge by the millions every 13 to 17 years, depending on the brood they are a part of. They emit a loud buzzing sound when trying to find a mate, sometimes so loud it can keep you awake at night! They don’t bite, sting, or carry any diseases, and serve as pollinators and benefit the ecosystem.

Their main goal is to mate and reproduce. During the egg laying process they will trim holes into tree branches, sometimes causing branches to break off completely. This may sound like a negative thing, but they act as a natural pruning. The holes they leave behind help aerate the soil and allow for rainwater to get underground and nourish tree roots in the hot summer months.

Can I Prevent Cicadas?

Keeping cicadas away can be quite challenging, especially during their periodic emergences when they appear in large numbers. There are some strategies to minimize their impact on your property:

  • Physical Barriers: Covering vulnerable plants and trees with fine mesh netting can prevent cicadas from laying their eggs on them. Make sure the netting is securely fastened to prevent cicadas from accessing the foliage.
  • Pruning: Trimming branches and foliage can help reduce the attractiveness of your yard to cicadas. Removing excess vegetation can make it less appealing for them to lay eggs.
  • Avoid Bright Lights: Cicadas are attracted to bright lights, so minimizing your outdoor lighting at night may help reduce their presence around your home

Cicadas might be annoying, but it’s important to remember their impact on the ecosystem of our forests. Limiting them on your property can be difficult, but there are ways. If the noise begins to get too loud, give a pest control company near you a call today!

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