That late summer buzzing of cicadas is short-lived

What is that sound?

Loud, green cicada bugs recently emerged in huge numbers after living underground, completely hidden from the human eye — and ear.

There are many species of cicada bugs. Most species grow and develop for 13 to 17 years underground, and then emerge in massive numbers to complete their life span.

“There are many hypotheses and theories why the cicada bug spends so much time underground,” according to Rob Lawrence, MU forest entomologist. “One theory is because of predation.”

The cicadas emerge all at once because predators can’t eat all of the cicadas at once. Some cicadas do become a larger bird’s meal, but because of the massive population, most of the cicadas fulfill their purpose in life.

The buzzing or clicking sound so familiar on late summer nights is the male cicada attempting to attract a female. Once the female’s eggs are fertile, she creates a slit in a nearby tree, and then lays her eggs. Upon hatching, the nymph, or larva, falls to the ground and burrows down to the tree roots. The sole purpose cicadas have when they emerge from the ground is to reproduce; they mate, they lay eggs, and then die.

Cicadas are, surprisingly, high in nutritional value. They do not transmit any disease and it is natural for pets to consume the cicada. Some people consume the cicada bug, as well, because of its nutritional value.

While safe for animal and human consumption, the bugs can do some damage to trees.

“Once the female lays her eggs, ‘flagging’ occurs, and that can cause branches to fall off the tree,” Lawrence said.

Experts use the term “flagging” when the leaves begin to turn brown and fall from the trees, weakening the tree.

Those not fond of the noisy insect can relax knowing that in six to eight weeks, the evening air will no longer buzz with that familiar song.

McKaylee Reavis

About the Author McKaylee Reavis

Hey y’all! My name is McKaylee Reavis. My father’s job requires my family and me to move around frequently. I was born in Florida, but then a few months later, my family was transferred to North Carolina, which is where the rest of my family lives. After North Carolina, we moved back to Florida. Then, the summer before I entered seventh grade, we moved up to Virginia. I was able to finish high school in the same school, which had been a dream of mine since I can remember. I had to face my senior year by myself because my family was transferred to Missouri, but it was a great experience and helped prepare me for college.