Description and Biology
Periodical cicadas (Magicicada septendecim and five other species) are amazing insects. They spend most of their lives as tiny to fairly large nymphs feeding on roots of trees (usually 13 or 17 years!). In late April and May, nymphs then emerge from the soil to molt into adults that live only a few weeks. Male cicadas sing a shrill mating call to attract females. After mating, females jab their eggs into the bark or twigs in a double row up to four or five inches long. Tiny pale nymphs hatch six to ten weeks later and drop to the soil. Broods numbered I to XVII are seventeen year cicadas and broods XVIII to XXI are thirteen year cicadas. However, some periodical cicada broods have gone extinct so now there are only twelve distinct seventeen-year broods, and three distinct thirteen-year broods that emerge in various parts of the eastern United States. We have six broods that emerge in North Carolina: brood X will emerge in 2021 and 2038. Brood IXX will emerge in 2024 and 2041. Brood XIV will emerge in 2025 and 2042. Brood II will emerge again in 2030 and 2047. Brood II is the most abundant of the periodical cicadas. It emerges in the foothills of North Carolina all the way up into New England. Brood II includes Linnaeus' seventeen year cicada, Magicicada septendecim. Brood VI will emerge in 2034 and 2051. Brood IX will emerge in 2020, 2037 and 2054.
Cicada nymphs feeding on tree roots can reduce wood accumulation and flowering of shrubs and trees. Adults also feed on plant juices, but not enough to be noticeable. The only aparent damage cicadas cause happens during oviposition as females jab their eggs into small stems of numerous kinds of handwood trees. These stems eventually die and “flag' over before finally dropping to the ground weeks, months, or even years later. Sometimes trees are able to callous over the oviposition scars and the stem survives.
Although it seems a shame to kill these amazing animals, Sevin is actually labeled for cicada management. On apple trees, Sevin can cause premature fruit drop.
- Cicada Mania. Anonymous. 2020. Dedicated to cicadas, the most amazing insects in the world.
- Cicadas. Frank, S., J. R. Baker, and S. Bambara. 2002. Entomology Insect Notes, NC State Extension Publications
- Comparison of Exclusion and Imidacloprid for Reduction of Oviposition Damage to Young Trees by Periodical Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae). Ahern, R. G., S. D. Frank, and M. J. Raupp. 2006. J. Econ Entomol. 98 (6): 2133-2136.
- Magicicada septendecim, Linnaeus' 17-year cicada. Gulker, M. 1999. Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 10, 2013.
- The ecology, behavior, and evolution periodical cicadas. Williams, K. S. and C. Simon. 1995. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 40: 269-95.
- The 2018 Periodical Cicada Emergence. Cooley, J. R. 2018. 2018 Magicicada Brood II Records.
- Extension Plant Pathology Publications and Factsheets
- Horticultural Science Publications
- North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual
For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center.
This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.
Publication date: May 8, 2013
Revised: June 17, 2020
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