The sound of summer is coming back! Summer 2016 is going to be the first time in 17 years that cicadas arrive in Westchester County, New York and the rest of the Northeast. Though these creepy crawlers are alarming-looking up close, they pose no direct threat to humans. Here are some fun facts about cicadas.
A cicada’s mating call can be alarming, especially when amplified from a large quantity. The cicadas which will emerge this summer are of the genus Magicicada; these bugs are limited to North America’s eastern region, and have many mysteries surrounding their life cycle.
Due to their similar appearance and overwhelming quantities, cicadas are often mistaken for locusts, which they are not related to. You can differentiate between the two by taking a glance at the insect’s legs! This graphic from Buzzle shows that while cicadas have short legs and long wings, locusts have short wings but distinctly long legs, which are built for jumping!
Despite their alien-like appearance, cicadas are not harmful to humans, and do not bite or sting, and don’t carry diseases. Cicadas are herbivores whose main goal is to mate and lay eggs!
The only threat cicadas pose is to trees. After the mating ritual is complete, female cicadas excavate a series of Y-shaped “eggnests” in living twigs before laying up to twenty eggs in each nest. One female cicada can lay as many as 600 eggs!
When deciphering a female cicada from a male cicada, be sure to look at the size. Male cicadas are larger, and if you were to view the underbelly of a male and female cicada side by side, you would see this:
Cicadas emerge from the ground during their final molt. During this time they amass in large groups to sing their mating song, which can be compared to a buzzing or whirring noise. These loud mating calls, or aggregations can reach up to 100 decibels.
Interested in more about the Magicicada? Click here!