‘Great Southern Brood’ of periodical cicadas to emerge this spring after 13 years

Brood XIX of periodical cicadas, also called “The Great Southern Brood,” will appear this spring in the middle, eastern, and southern parts of the U.S.

As the temperatures rise in mid-May, brace yourself for the arrival of the 13-year periodical cicada, bringing along a boisterous and unforgettable noise fiesta.

Once temperatures reach at least 64 degrees below ground, people throughout the region will start noticing the cicadas. Iris flowers tend to bloom concurrently.

The combination of warm rains and a warmer spring could result in earlier appearances. Stretching from southern Iowa to Oklahoma, the brood will also cover southern coastal states and reach as far east as Washington, D.C.

The size of a periodical cicada is half that of an annual cicada. Periodicals generally have black bodies with orange wings and red eyes, while annual cicadas have black bodies with a green tint and black eyes.

By the end of June, the periodical cicadas will disappear and won’t return until 2037. Robbie Doerhoff, a forest entomologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says periodical cicadas have an evolutionary strategy of remaining underground for 13 years before emerging.

“If you come out by the millions, billions or even trillions, you are far more likely to successfully mate, reproduce and have your progeny live if there are lots of you,” Doerhoff told The Heartlander. “You can’t all get eaten at the same time. It is an evolutionary strategy over many thousands and thousands of years.”

Once they appear, periodical cicada eggs are deposited in narrow twigs and will later hatch during the summer. Falling to the ground, the nymphs will burrow deep into the roots of shrubs. Over the course of 13 years, they will utilize their straw-like mouth to extract sap from the root.

Beneath the surface, the insects contribute greatly to the health of the soil. The compacted soil can benefit from tunneling by improving gas exchange and water percolation. The soil benefits from the decomposition of a cicada, as it adds valuable nutrients. Moreover, they make great fish bait and provide birds and other insect predators with a natural food source.

Doerhoff suggests waiting until fall or spring 2025 if you’re considering planting new trees. Young trees face the greatest risk, as periodical cicadas lay their eggs in small twigs. If you decide to plant, Doerhoff recommends using a small diameter fabric mesh to cover your tree instead of using insecticides.

“There are not many twigs on them. The cicadas are going to target those eggling spots. If they kill off most of those twigs, the tree itself might die. It is trying really hard to establish, and that is a stressful thing for a new tree.”

Most importantly for us, the cicadas do not have teeth, stingers, fangs or mandibles. They are non-toxic, are not a danger to humans or typically pets. However, according to an article from AARP, dogs that eat too many cicadas can develop stomach issues.

Doerhoff is intrigued by this particular group of cicadas, and she hopes it sparks curiosity in everyone.

“This is a super cool thing. I know people get freaked out about mass amounts of bugs coming out at once, but they are going to do it no matter how you feel about it. You might as well think it is cool. I hope more people can get into it being neat and not creepy.”

About The Author

Get News, the way it was meant to be:

Fair. Factual. Trustworthy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.