Another 17 years pass: Cicadas start song

Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

Beginning as early as this week, 17-year cicadas will appear and will sing this month and next.

“Males will join together to form choruses to attract females,” the Missouri Department of Conservation reported. “They sing during the day with the loudest drone rising during the hottest part of the day.”

This 17-year emergence is happening in an area from Iowa to Texas that includes western Missouri and eastern Kansas, said Rob Lawrence, a conservation department entomologist.

From the department report:

Cicada nymphs will open small holes in the soil as they emerge and wingless nymphs will climb trees and other objects, shed exoskeletons and become winged adults.

They leave brownish shells that look like shed skins attached to trees, porches and more.

They will not appear everywhere because fields or yards that did not have trees 17 years ago would not have provided a place for females to lay eggs and for nymphs to hatch and fall into the soil.

But they will come out by the thousands in other places and provide food for things like wild turkeys, fish and other wildlife.

“The large emergences are an evolutionary adaptation that lets the species survive by overwhelming predators with sheer numbers and a lengthy emergence cycle,” Lawrence said.

They can affect small trees because females cut narrow slits in small branches and lay eggs in them, but MDC foresters do not recommend using insecticides on them. Small or newly planted trees and shrubs can be covered with mesh and tied at the trunk.

Annual cicadas will appear in July and August, after the periodical variety.

“Striking red eyes and blackish bodies distinguish the periodical cicadas. Annual cicadas have greenish bodies, dark eyes and are about two inches long,” slightly bigger than periodical ones.


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