Learn About the 2021 Periodical Brood X Cicada Emergence & Its Effect on the Eastern United States
That incessant buzzing noise droning throughout the spring and summer nights in the Eastern United States is due to the periodical cicada.
The sounds we hear are actually mating calls made by male periodical cicadas (Hemiptera). To create such a sound, the pest uses a drum-like organ known as a tymbal.
Residents on the East Coast have dealt with the noisiest evenings ever. This is due to the 2021 emergence of Brood X or the Great Eastern Brood, which has resulted in billions of the periodical cicadas crowding 15 states throughout the Eastern U.S. Those affected states include Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, among others.
A natural phenomenon that occurs only once every 17 years, the 2021 emergence of Brood X marks the largest arrival of periodical cicadas yet.
Brood X Cicadas & Their Environmental Impact on the Eastern U.S.
The 17-year cicada emergence of 2021 resulted in billions of the bugs — about 1.4 million cicadas per acre — according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
This number has the potential to reach up to a trillion periodical cicadas, which is more pests than most people care to see.
Signs of Brood X cicadas include casts of thin, brown cicada shells scattered on the ground or on trees, small tunnels and holes near or around the bases of tree trunks, and loud buzzing sounds at night.
Farmers and orchard owners may find the bugs to be a nuisance as female periodical cicadas make incisions in young trees to lay their eggs, causing harm to the tree. This can be avoided, however, by wrapping young trees in netting or other man-made barriers.
Otherwise, it is highly suggested by the USDA that farmers and orchard owners refrain from planting trees during the springtime, as the plants can be destroyed by periodical cicadas.
But periodical cicadas are harmless to fully grown shrubs and trees.
After emerging, the pest has a lifespan of only four weeks, which means farmers and orchard owners can safely resume their work schedule as early as August.
Aside from young trees, periodical cicadas pose little threat to the environment, people, or animals.
Actually, in many respects periodical cicadas are beneficial to the environment.
Upon emergence, the tunnels and holes periodical cicadas dig provide aeration for soil. When they die, the decaying bodies provide nitrogen and nutrients needed for growing trees.
Periodical cicadas are not venomous, nor do they bite or sting. In terms of lawn pests, periodical cicadas are not dangerous, but can be a nuisance.
What to Know About Periodical Cicadas
Due to periodical cicadas’ numerous predators — such as frogs, mice, racoons, birds, opossums, and even certain types of fungi — the species collectively births a single brood of millions to a billion of cicadas.
The brood that emerged in 2021, known as Brood X, burrowed underground and lived by eating the roots of plants until this year, after 17 years, they emerged en masse from beneath the surface to mature above ground.
Without the species’ synchronized, high-volume birth or emergence, periodical Brood X cicadas would otherwise face extinction as there would not be enough of the bugs left to reproduce.
But through this survival strategy, called prey satiation, predators can eat their fill of the bugs while leaving plenty of excess periodical cicadas to breed the next generation.
Periodical cicadas normally emerge during the first or second week of May. In order for the brood to dig its way to the surface, ground temperatures must reach at least 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this temperature, the ground is soft enough for the bugs to break out from underground. Depending on weather conditions, the soil temperature is perfect for the species’ arrival by late spring — or at the very latest, early summer.
Periodical cicadas enjoy a diet of deciduous tree roots and twigs. As a result, the deciduous forests of the Eastern region of the U.S. face high populations of the bug. Periodical cicadas can be found in 15 Eastern states, including those bordering New England, like New York.
This species of pest is easily identifiable by their thick, black bodies, orange abdomens, bright red, bulging eyes, and large, transparent wings.
They are often seen on the stems or leaves of shrubs, trees, and other forest plants. Male cicadas emit loud buzzing noises to attract female mates.
The above-ground lifespan of a periodical cicada is only a month. Meaning, in only a four-week window, adult cicadas will have mated, produced offspring, and died.
Before their death, female periodical cicadas can lay over 500 eggs, which are stored in trees.
This pest has quite the list of tasks to accomplish in such a short timeframe!
Cicadas are cold-blooded, so they rely on warm external temperatures to survive. When the temperature reaches below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, periodical cicadas do not have the energy to sing, fly, or mate — and thus, the pest dies.
Also known as nymphs, after baby cicadas hatch, they will crawl down from their birthplaces within the incisions of tree trunks and burrow underground to hide from the cold. The nymphs will live as subterranean beings until another 17 years have passed.
Address Infestations with Pest Experts
Homeowners and business owners alike can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it is unlikely to encounter a cicada infestation in the home or office.
But that doesn’t mean protection from this pest — and many others — should be put on the back burner.
Cicadas can cause significant damage to young trees, such as maple, oak, or apple — all of which are commonly found in the Northeast.
Tree damage can be prevented by adding tree wraps or other protection around the trunk of the tree. It’s also important to avoid planting adolescent trees within four years of a cicada emergence as the young plant could still be susceptible to damage.
If you do find that your home or business has an infestation of any kind, it’s best to consult with a professional for proper treatment and exclusion.
The pest control professionals at Catseye Pest Control have the necessary training and skills to handle a multitude of infestations — including pest, rodent, and wildlife infestations.
Even though cicadas aren’t a direct threat to humans, the damage caused by the pest can be a nightmare for property owners.
To learn how the pest and wildlife control services from Catseye can benefit your home or business, contact us today.