Every 17 years, cicadas come out in broods in Ohio. This year, there are expected to be many more than the last time they arrived in 2004. They emerge from the ground in May (when soil temperatures reach around 64 degrees).
The cicadas we are going to see this May are different than the ones we hear every summer––and louder.
How long they stick around
Cicadas only stick around for a few weeks, as their expected lifetime is only about three to four weeks long once they are out of the ground. In the ground, though, they are able to survive extremely long, as they are alive for those 17 years.
Why are they coming out now?
So, why do they all come out of the ground in extremely large quantities? The answer is simple: mating. In order to survive, they have to have time to mate and lay their eggs in order to keep the species alive.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Cicadas are loud. If you are used to the chorus of cicadas every summer and think those are loud, it is almost alarming how loud the 17 year cicadas in Ohio are.
Exactly how loud are they? Male cicadas looking for mates can reach up to 100 decibels, which is almost like a constant thrum of a motorcycle outside of your window. The sound comes from rubbing their tymbals together.
Tymbals are located on the underside of their abdomens and are hard. This is why the noise can reach up to such loud volumes. Oftentimes, the noise will be started by one cicada, and the rest join in, which is when it gets really loud.
Don’t let your dogs eat too many at once
Eating one or two cicadas at a time may not harm your dog, but with so many flying around and dying, there can easily be multiple cicadas within reach of your dog at a time. So, when your dog is outside, be sure to monitor them.
Because cicadas are large, they can also pose a choking hazard if too many are consumed at once. But usually, these insects will upset your dog’s stomach and veterinary assistance is encouraged.
The dog’s stomach is usually upset by the hard exoskeleton of the cicada, especially if the dog eats the insect whole. If you have a small dog, they may be more at risk for getting sick than a larger dog.
Due to survival, these insects breed in masses to ensure the longevity of the species. This is why they come out in droves when they are out of the ground! Their life-span is extremely short once they have mated, but they do live long for an insect at around 17 years.
Once the eggs hatch, the cicadas will fall to the ground and burrow for seventeen years until it is time for the mating season once more. This year’s cicadas are known as “Brood X” due to the expectation of millions of them coming out from the ground.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR GARDEN?
Thankfully, cicadas aren’t interested in your garden, so you don’t have to take any protective measures for your fruit and vegetable plants.
But, they do lay eggs in small trees and shrubs, so protect these by putting fine mesh netting around young trees and shrubs. Once the eggs have hatched, your trees and shrubs will go back to normal. Larger trees and most plants will not be impacted at all by the cicadas, so there is no need to worry about that.
Joe Boggs, an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, said that any trees planted within the last couple of years could be severely impacted by the egg-laying, so putting mesh can help to curb the damage that could be done.
Those trees that have been recently planted could see long-term harm from the eggs, so protection is a must, even though it may not seem like they are being harmed during the mating season.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Cicadas are harmless and will not purposefully damage your plants or garden, so it is important to not spray them with harsh chemicals. Though it may be tempting because they can be a nuisance with noise, you only have to endure one summer of them before they go back into the ground for seventeen more years!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you download the Cicada Safari app and submit photos of periodical cicadas and the location of the photo when they show up, scientists can track the cicadas. This will help the researchers and aid them with trying to fully understand the cycle of cicadas and how they work.