Wednesday, May 28, 2008


They're back!
Actually, they've been here all along. For the last seventeen years, that is, living beneath the ground, and feeding off the sap from tree roots.
Periodical cicadas emerge in "broods," groups sharing the same 13 or 17-year cycle, when the ground reaches about 64 degrees, usually in mid-May. But with this year's cooler spring, we found them appearing Monday. Smaller than the Dog-day cicadas of late summer, periodical cicadas are black, with bright red eyes.

And, although they may look pretty scary, they're harmless.
Some even say they're delicious!

If you live near one of these little red dots, you're probably seeing them too!

We're fortunate to have one of the foremost cicada experts living in the Cincinnati area.
Dr. Gene Kritsky has more detailed information on his website.

Map copied from The Ohio State Cicada Project website.

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Dave Coulter said...

VERY cool! We had them last year, and were just reminiscing about them at work the other day!

I really like cicadas!

Naturegirl said...

Well what can I first time being up close and personal to a cicada!Great photos!

Susan Gets Native said...

No. Don't wanna see 'em. I'm not looking.
I haven't seen any in our yard yet. Hopefully we aren't in one of the zones.
Knock on wood. (hitting head against desk)

Kathiesbirds said...

Nina, a sound I grew up with but didn't know the source. I love your blog so I've nominated you for an award. Find the info here:

bobbie said...

Just look at those transparent wings. At first glance, you might say an ugly little thing, but when you look more closely, there is beauty.

nina said...

Apparently they serve a purpose, too.
As they emerge from the ground, their holes aerate the soil.
They make good bird food! (Can you imagine a bird's reaction to finding one?!)
And their decomposing bodies add nitrogen to the topsoil.

And as far as their appearance goes--I think they're beautiful too.
I could do without the red eyes, but the wings are like stained glass windows!

KatDoc said...


I'm so jealous! I live too far east to have gotten Brood X 4 years ago, so I was psyched to realize I live in the heart of Brood XIV -land. I have been anticipating the emergence of "my" cicadas for the last two years, and I haven't had any yet.

Everybody says I am crazy to want them, but I think they are cool. For one thing, they will be great Purple Martin food, plus they are neat in their own way. I'm afraid that I won't have many here though, because up until about 20 years ago, my yard and all the property around me was farmland - not a lot of older trees. I still have hope, though!


The Birdlady said...

That looks pretty close to me - but I didn't think this was our year - and haven't read anything about it...I hope not. I DON'T enjoy them!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I have a disdain for those ugly insects. They make a lot of noise and aren't lookers either. However, as seen in Planet Earth, they do hold a critical role in the ecosystem and it must be kind of cool to see them in such numbers at once.

NCmountainwoman said...

The broods are just to our north, east, and west, but none in our county in western NC.

I find cicadas fascinating. I was smitten when I was 10 and first heard the unbelievably loud noise. I loved the exoskeletons I found on the trees. What an exciting time.

Old Wom Tigley said...

I have missed my visits and need to make time after Sky Watch to catch up. I will be back then.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I haven't seena any around here yet. I must say I wouldn't eat one unless I was starving. I cringe just thinking of the crunch between my teeth. UGH

Marvin said...

Not here; not this year. Next year, I think. Actually, I photographed one periodic cicada molting last year. That photo provoked a bit of interest among cicada aficionados when I posted it on BugGuide because it was two years early.

Great shots, Nina.

mon@rch said...

All I can say is "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"