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Cicada Invasion

By: Denny Trease Email
By: Denny Trease Email

They're loud and they're ugly. The good news is they don't come around very often, and they don't stay very long.

The sound made by cicadas is among the loudest produced by any insect. What we're hearing though are love songs. Male cicadas congregate in the trees where they serenade females in hopes of attracting a mate. They do it by vibrating their abdominal membrances so the song is actually a belly dance.

Madison County Extension Agent Amanda Sears tells 27 Newsfirst, "The sound can be defeaning but at least they have three different songs. The cicadas we're hearing now have been underground as larvae since 1991. They only emerge every 17 years and only when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees. The emerge from their shells and harden into flying insects."

Frank Miller couldn't even mow his yard this week because it was so thick with cicadas. He says, "I had to watch every step that I walked to keep from stepping on them. They were just flying and landing all over me. Every tree probably had a thousand of them on it."

Cicadas are harmless to people but can damage trees. Amanda Sears says, "They won't damage your garden plants, but females once they have mated will go to branches on young trees and split the bottom of the branch to lay their eggs there."

An emergence can last up to 6 weeks, and since the cicadas started appearing this year on May 4, we're going to have to put up with them for another week or so.


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