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The Cicadas are Coming, the Cicadas are Coming!


Cicadas on a tree at sunset

“Parts of Wisconsin will be a lot louder this summer.” “Illinois to see uptick in cicadas in 2024.” “Cicadas set to emerge in Alabama following historic emergence.”


Those news headlines sound interesting, huh? Perhaps, but likely not enough to make you lose sleep.


                  Learn about Illinois’ uptick in cicadas here.

                   And find out about Alabama’s cicada emergence here.  

 

But then, there is also this one: “A trillion cicadas will descend on the US this spring in a rare event that could leave an unforgettable stench.”


A TRILLION. That may seem like a lot, especially when you write it out:


1,000,000,000,000


That can be a fearsome figure for anyone trying to grow anything or raise animals (besides cicadas). Counting sheep at night may not stop your mind from racing –instead of letting you sleep – at the thought of what a TRILLION cicadas might do to your livelihoods and investments.


When the trillion cicadas arrive, it may get really loud. It may get really stinky. But this occurrence of two “cicada broods” arriving together for the first time in more than two centuries…may not cause many issues for your farm, pasture, ranch, or investment.


Exhale. You can rest again.


The two types of cicadas making this joint appearance are identified as Brood XIII and Brood XIX. Their names sound like some sort of heirs to the British monarchy unless you have a background in entomology.


“All periodical cicadas of the same life cycle type that emerge in a given year are known collectively as a single ‘brood’ (or ‘year-class’),” according to the University of Connecticut’s Biodiversity Research Collections.


Broods are neither species nor are they populations; they are best described as regional, multispecies groupings of periodical cicadas that emerge on a common schedule,” UConn’s information source continued.


The bug experts use Roman numerals to distinguish the 12 broods of cicadas that emerge every 17 years and three broods for the creatures that come out every 13 years.


RELATED: The University of Connecticut’s Biodiversity Research Collections includes where you can find individual broods and in which years they are likely to appear. If you are wondering when and where you can see the Shenandoah Brood, Brushy Mountains Brood, Onondaga Brood, Iowan Brood (not just Iowa), Kansas Brood (not just Kansas), or any of the 30 broods, click here.  


What makes 2024 so unusual is that Brood XIX and Brood XIII will emerge at the same time this spring. The Midwest and Southeast in the United States will welcome (?) their arrivals. The cicadas will end their slumber in their underground burrows, where they have been developing into maturity as they ready to explore the outside world.


Here are some facts about cicadas as they prepare to make their arrival, courtesy of Cicada Safari:


  • Cicadas have been tunneling their way to the surface but waiting until the soil temperatures in the final 7-8 inches of their destination reaches about 64 degrees.

  • The males sing. Females are their silent partners.

  • It’s fluid only for adult cicadas’ diet. They don’t eat solid foods.

  • Cicadas don’t always follow the calendar. For the most part, they stick to their 13 or 17-year cycle. However, some stragglers don’t wait to emerge with the rest of their group.

  • You can eat cicadas. They don’t taste like chicken. They do taste like cold, canned asparagus, which might not be the best marketing slogan. Cicadas can be a low-fat food source. Female cicadas are higher in protein.

RELATED: Dr. George Annor from the University of Minnesota has recommended the potential of insects as a protein source for the future. Watch our American Farmland Owner conversation with him here. 


Cicada Safari points out that, for the most part, cicadas have ecological benefits. Their tunnels aerate the soil. Cicadas’ decaying bodies offer plentiful additions of nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. Their egg-laying process helps to serve as a natural pruning process and allows the tree to produce more flowers and fruit in the following year.


However, Cicada Safari cautions that the egg-laying process can be challenging for young trees, and they can stymie growth. Pesticides won’t kill cicadas. “If you have a young tree, you can loosely wrap the branches with cheesecloth to keep the female from laying her eggs,” Cicada Safari recommends.


Overall, this cicada invasion may get crunchy, smelly, and noisy. But it shouldn’t do too much damage to your bottom line.


RELATED: Cicada Safari provides an in-depth background on cicadas’ history in the United States and which states can expect to see the different broods. Explore that here. 

 

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