17-year cicadas will return to Ohio in 2016

Brood V cicadas will emerge in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland in 2016.

17-year cicada Brood X
17-year cicada from Brood X. By Pmjacoby (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2016 is the year that Brood V of the periodical 17-year cicadas will return to much of eastern Ohio as well as some nearby states.

If you’re a resident of the eastern United States, consider yourself lucky. It’s the only part of the country where periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) emerge. Actually, periodic cicadas are native to North America and don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

How many broods of cicadas are there?

There are at least 13 broods of 17-year cicadas and at least five broods of 13-year cicadas, according to Penn State University Extension.

17-year cicada broods are named by Roman numerals I through XVII, one number for each of the possible years that cicadas can emerge. 13-year cicada broods are designated by Roman numerals XXVIII through XXX.


Cicadas look alien, but they are harmless (2016)

Cicadas waking up (2016)

Cicadas won’t be visiting Ohio this year (2013)

The cicada swarm may be good news for foodies (2013)

Methuselah of insect world to appear in region in May (Brood VIII cicadas, 2002)

They’ve been waiting 17 years for this (2008)

Periodical cicadas have either a 17-year or a 13-year life cycle. Generally, the 17-year cicadas appear in the northern part of the eastern U.S., which the 13-year cicadas occur in the southern part of the eastern U.S. There are some overlapping areas, though.

There are six species of cicadas: three northern and three southern species.

When and where will Brood V cicadas appear?

Brood V cicadas are expected to emerge between May and June. Usually, they will emerge when the soil temperature is 64 degrees F.

Brood V will emerge in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

Are cicadas locusts?

Some people may call periodical cicadas “17-year locusts,” but they’re not locusts. Ohio State University Extension explains that cicadas are related to leafhoppers and spittlebugs, but not locusts, which are grasshoppers.

What’s the life cycle of a periodical cicada?

Ohio State University Extension explains that periodical cicadas emerge from underground as adults. Once they emerge, they only live between two and four weeks. During that time, both males and females will feed a little on young, tender twigs. Then, males will “sing” to females.

About 10 days after the female cicadas molt, they will mate and lay eggs. Each female cicada has a structure attached to her abdomen called ovipositor, which is used to cut slits in tree branches. Eggs are usually laid in twigs that are ¼ inch to ½ inch in diameter. Female cicadas lay between 20 and 28 eggs in each of the pockets they create, and they lay as many as 400 to 600 eggs in their lifetimes.

Female cicadas will lay their eggs in about 270 different tree species and woody shrubs, but they don’t lay eggs in coniferous trees, according to Ohio State University Extension. These trees and plants range from hickory and maple trees to Rose of Sharon and black-eyed Susans.

Six to 10 weeks after eggs are laid, cicada nymphs emerge and drop onto the ground. The nymphs are white and resemble ants. They burrow 6 to 18 inches below the soil’s surface and feed on plant and tree roots, which doesn’t cause much damage to trees. The nymphs then feed for 17 years, usually residing 1 foot to 8 feet underground. During this time, they go through five nymphal instars, according to Ohio State University Extension.

17 years later, the nymphs have become adults and they will emerge, and the life cycle starts again.

How do cicadas emerge?

Cicadas emerge at night. They climb up out of the soil to trees and plants, leaving a half-inch hole. Then, the cicadas shed their exoskeletons, which can be found attached to trees.

What do adult cicadas look like?

Ohio State University Extension says that adult cicadas are about 1 ½ inches long. They have clear wings with orange veins.

Periodical cicadas are not the same as annual, or “dog day,” cicadas, which emerge in July and August. Annual cicadas are larger than periodical cicadas and are brown and green. They have black markings and a white-colored bloom.

Do cicadas make sound?

Adult male cicadas “sing” with vibrating membranes that are on the underside of their first abdominal segment. Females are silent.

Ohio State University Extension says that male cicadas will squawk and make a loud buzzing noise.

Do cicadas cause damage to trees?

About 10 days after the cicadas emerge, female cicadas lay their eggs in tree branches. “Flagging” may occur in twigs where eggs have been laid. Flagging is when twigs split, wither and then die, Ohio State University Extension explains.

West Virginia University Extension recommends that homeowners wait to plant new trees until after cicadas are gone. If you’ve already planted trees, you can drape cheesecloth or insect netting over the trees, specifically around the trunk and beneath the lower branches.

In addition, after eggs are laid, you can prune out and destroy twigs, which will decrease the number of nymphs entering the soil to feed on plant roots.

Chemical control of periodical cicadas is not recommended per Ohio State University Extension.

Do cicadas harm humans and pets?

Cicadas do not bite or sting humans. They have piercing, sucking mouth parts that are used for feeding, but that’s it.

Dogs and cats may eat cicadas, but they will not harm them. If too many are consumed, pets may become constipated, or they may regurgitate the cicadas.

Are there any predators of cicadas?

Underground, moles and other burrowers may eat cicadas. Once they emerge, birds, fish and small mammals may eat them.


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  1. Hi. Thank you for this article. I recently moved to NV from Ohio – and that is one sound I will miss. Your article is very interesting.

  2. Loved the article! I too am a Buckeye from Marion, moved to NC after long stent with US Navy, but, with recent 89 degree weather (rain on the way) I had to pull over during my April 19, 2016 commute to work, sounded like rapid small arms fire hitting my truck, CICADAS!!!!!!!!!! Yup! here in Person County NC, right on Va State line, my silver, Chevy 2500HD Silverado, covered on the grill and hood little golfball size………… well you know the rest, Chevy won. But darn, pop, pop pop, pop THEY ARE HERE early!!!

  3. Katie Woods

    Do you know if the Cicadas will be present during the Memorial Golf Tournament — May 30 — June 5, 2016 ?



  4. Katie,

    Your article about cicadas is precise, well researched, and interesting to read. Our neighbors in Girard, OH keep talking about “the locusts” like the plague is coming. Some of the neighbors have taken to wrapping their full grown (30-50 year old) trees with tin foil. Looks like they are expecting an alien invasion. Your article took the fear out of this beautiful and natural occurrence.



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