17-Year Cicadas in 2021

May 25, 2021

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Photographer: Cindy Sun

Summary Author: Jim Foster

Brood X cicadas are now emerging by the multitudes in the Middle Atlantic and Mid-West regions of the U.S. Shown above are the throngs of juveniles that surfaced from beneath a silver maple tree at my home. Once above ground they quickly shed their encasements and then as red-eyed adults (bottom photo) start a several week period of courtship. The screeching mating call made by the males can reach decibel levels near 90. While this call is annoying to most humans it obviously works for the females of the cicada species. To hear their "chorus" and see them emerging click here.

Because almost everything eats these tasty morsels, their survival strategy is to overwhelm predators by popping out of the ground by the millions, in a matter of just a few days. This strategy is called predator satiation. They don’t do lasting damage to the mature trees they alight upon, but their egg-laying and sheer numbers can injure young trees, particularly newly planted trees that bear fruit or bloom in spring, such as the one that for some reason I decided to plant earlier this spring.