Garden Views: Locust or cicadas-They’re not the same


Where are the cicadas?

Last year the annual Dog Day Cicadas, or another common name locusts, began singing in the evenings around mid-July. Locusts, the insects that sing in the evenings, are not locusts at all; they are Annual Dog Day Cicadas

Cicadas are large insects that occur worldwide and are commonly recognized for their unique sound. While often referred to as “locusts” in the United States, they bear no relation to true locusts, which are grasshoppers.

Did you know cicadas are edible? Did you also know that cicadas are related to shrimp? If you should consume the cicada delicacy, be forewarned if you are allergic to shrimp; you will be allergic to cicadas! The Dog Day name is believed to be referenced from a bright star called Sirius, also known as the dog star. Sirius can be seen in the morning sky at the same time of year that the annual cicadas are projecting their mating calls.

Our annual cicadas share several behavioral traits with Periodical Cicadas. The nymphs of both types of cicadas develop underground sustained by juices sucked from tree roots, and it takes multiple years for them to complete their development from eggs to new adults.

Periodical Cicadas are so named because it takes 13 or 17 years for new adults to emerge in the spring. The cicadas that have been making national news are the Periodical Cicadas. Brood XIII (13) is emerging in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin and are the 17-year Periodical Cicadas. The other Periodical Cicada emerging is Brood XIX (19) the 13-year cicada. This cicada is appearing in Southern Illinois, Missouri, and parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. Illinois though has both broods emerging in their state. Talk about a double whammy!

What is amazing NW Ohio never has experienced the Periodical Cicadas. The closest county that had the 17-year Periodical Cicada was Van Wert County back in 2021 with Brood X (X). Based on math, Van Wert County will see and hear these cicadas again in the spring of 2038.

Periodical Cicadas are spring insects, while annual cicadas are summer insects. Like their Periodical familial cousins, Dog Day Cicada males also “sing” to attract females. What I find interesting is the Periodical Cicadas have beady red eyes, while our common Annual Cicadas have dusky dark eyes.

Dog Day Cicadas develop more quickly compared to Periodical Cicadas. It takes 2-3 years for the nymphs to complete their development; however, some adults emerge every year due to overlapping generations. The adults appear sporadically throughout the “Dog Days” of summer usually beginning in late July. Both Periodical Cicadas and Dog Day Cicada females use their long, spade-like ovipositors or stingers to insert eggs through the bark of twigs and into the soft, white wood of trees. The resulting damage splits the bark leaving deep longitudinal furrows of ruptured tissue. The injury often causes the twig to die, the leaves to turn brown, with the dead twig hanging onto the tree. This is known as flagging. Eventually, the twig detaches and drops.

Regardless which cicada you may encounter they are harmless to humans and pets. Although they may be a nuisance, these insects provide many ecological benefits, especially as food for various other animals. Oh, did I mention they are an edible delicacy related to shrimp. Bon appetit!

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