FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The high-pitched hum of cicadas is a noise we typically experience during the summer. However, this year it will be produced in even larger numbers as Cicada Brood X is set to emerge after 17 years.
They will come out from the ground throughout the state, including right here in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. During their time underground they have been feeding on the roots of trees, now they will come to the surface to mate and lay eggs for their next brood.
You may not see them but once the soil hits 64 degrees they will resurface and you will certainly hear them. Depending on the temperatures over the next couple of weeks, they could arrive as early as late April or hold off until May. Once they emerge the adult cicadas, with red eyes and wings, will fly around laying eggs for about four to six weeks before things get a bit quieter. This periodical emergence of Brood X is part of their evolution to adapt and make sure the Brood continues on.
“There’s going to be 1 to 2 million per acre boiling out of the ground,” explained Clifford Sadof, Professor of Entomology at Purdue University, “This is what they call, technically a satiation strategy. So in other words there’s going to be so many insects coming out that no one predator is going to be able to eat them all.”
Those predators include birds, squirrels and even pets. When it comes to humans, besides providing the loud background noise of the summer they won’t pose any threat.
“The good news is that they really don’t harm people at all. They can only suck plant sap, they can’t bite you, they won’t scratch you. So they aren’t a harm to human health at all,” said Sadof, “If you see them coming out of the ground, there’s no need to grab some insecticide and kill them.”
While they won’t pose a threat to a large portion of the ecosystem, they could cause damage to some trees, particularly to younger smaller trees. This is due to them locating trees to lay their eggs.
“The damage that you would get from cicadas is going to come from their egg-laying,” described, Bill Horan, Purdue Extension Educator of Agriculture & Natural Resources in Wells County, “When they lay eggs they lay them on small twigs, their egg-laying organ, their ovipositor, makes a slit in the bark and they will deposit their eggs in that slit. That small slit could actually cause some small twigs to die off.”
This could lead to some trees looking bare in some spots. If you do have trees you are worried about you can cover them with netting before the cicadas emerge.
As for constantly hearing the unmistakable high-pitched hum outdoors, cicadas are most active during the middle of the day. Meaning if you don’t want to risk attracting them, you may want to try and do your yard work at a different time.
“If you are bothered by them harassing you or flying, maybe landing on you while you are out mowing the grass, you are less likely to attract them if you do that right at the beginning of the day or towards the end of the day, rather than the middle of the day,” said Horan.
Later this summer the newly hatched brood of cicadas, called nymphs until they become fully grown, burrow back into the ground to feed and mature, not to be heard from for another 17 years.