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The periodical cicada, which is often mistakenly classified as locusts, comes from the genus magicicada of brood 19 or “the great Southern brood.” They are well-known for their distinct rust-colored eyes and their buzzing love song calling for a mate. In the coming weeks the 13-year cicada will emerge from it’s slumber.
The last time this species of cicadas made an appearance was in 1998. When they emerge, a total of 20,000 to 30,000 can come up from under a single tree, according to the Forestry Commission.
The life cycle begins when eggs are laid on tree branches which later hatch after six to seven weeks. The “nymphs” or young cicadas drop to the ground where they burrow into plant roots which they feed on, and the 13-year cycle restarts.
The female cicada can lay up to 600 eggs, which can harm the branches, but mature trees do not suffer long-term damage.
The synchronized the cycle of the cicada is remarkable, they all come out at the same time. Under the cloak of darkness, they pull out of their last skin and leave that shell that many people are familiar with,. That shedding of the skin officiates the insects’ maturity. They then fly into the treetops, sing, mate and die. Periodic cicadas are native to the eastern United States.
The sound cicadas make come from a special membrane on their exoskeleton located on the sides of the abdomen called tymbals.
Read about the history of the Periodical Cicada HERE