17-Year Cicadas

Cicada on Wild Parsnip

On and around our property this year was the eruption of the 17-year cicada. We moved here 18 years ago, so we would have been here the last time they erupted.  But it was our first year here and the time of their eruption was also the time of the birth of my twins.  I don’t have any recollection of the cicadas.

This June we knew the cicadas were here by seeing the hard locusts shells on trees and clothes lines and items sitting near trees. About a week later we started hearing a background hum or buzz.  The Farmer described it as an other-worldly noise. (Think outer space other-worldly.) If we were in the city and coming home, there was no buzz up on LaFayette Rd.  But as we came to Graham Road, the buzz started and continued until we got to our home (and probably beyond).

I think the noise was temperature dependent and perhaps daylight dependent as well.  It would start around 9-10 a.m and stop around 4-5 p.m.  This continued for about 2 weeks.  We were able to record the noise of the cicadas.  At first you will hear the hum of the cicadas.  Then at about 10 sec. you hear the hum of 1 cicada.  From our internet  and book research, we found that only the males make the noise.

One day during this time as I took a walk on Kennedy Rd., I saw that the cicadas were covering everything – trees and weeds – everything.  Of course we had seen them flying around.  But I didn’t realize they were hanging off everything.  Here are some pics of them:

17-year circadas on tree leaves.
Click to see the full resolution image of cicadas on the tree (6 MB image).
Several cicadas on one plant
Click to see the full resolution image of cicadas on weeds (6 MB).


















And at one point one landed on me.  They don’t hurt and don’t sting.  They just feel a little prickly.

We did feed the cicadas to the chickens. They ate dead and live ones.  They are omnivores and enjoy all sorts of insects.

Eventually the noise has stopped.  The dead cicadas are littering the ground.  At some point the cicadas did do some pruning of the vegetation.  If you look at the trees around, brown leaves are hanging off of the ends.

Looking closer, there are marks on the branches and then the dead leaves are beyond these marks.  The marks appear to be made by the adults.  But whether they are eating them or laying their eggs there, we aren’t sure.

We have heard of people catching cicadas and eating them, but we didn’t try that.  Maybe in 2035.