DARKE COUNTY — Exciting news has been “buzzing” around lately because the cicadas are coming!
Darke County Parks is preparing for a special year. Brood X 17-year periodical cicadas will emerge as well as our annual dog day cicadas. These cicadas are ½”-1” smaller in size than our annual cicadas. They are also black and orange in color compared to the greenish colored cicadas we’re used to seeing. Brood X cicadas will emerge when the soil at four inches depth reaches approximately 64 degrees, usually after a nice warm rain.
In wet, muddy areas when preparing to emerge, the nymphs will form mud chimneys that prevent their hole from backfilling. These mud chimneys are a sign of where cicadas are under the ground and that they will be emerging soon. The cicada life cycle has three stages: eggs, nymphs, and adults. After spending a long period underground as nymphs, the cicadas will emerge and molt one last time before becoming adults. Adult cicadas don’t bite, and have one mission: reproduce as quickly as possible. What better way to woo a mate than to sing at the top or your lungs, or in a cicada’s case, at the top of their tymbal?
Cicadas have a special organ, the tymbal, that they flex to produce the loud buzzing noise we’re familiar with. All of Brood X will emerge in the same week or two, meaning it will be cicada mania! Don’t worry, cicadas aren’t locusts which means they don’t have chewing mouth parts, so garden crops are safe. Cicadas have sucking, straw-like mouth parts that they use to pierce trees and eat fluids from tree twigs and woody shrubs.
Typically, any damage to trees from cicadas comes from the egg laying process. Mature trees will experience very minimal damage from cicadas, however, if planning to plant a new tree this spring, it might be best to wait until after the cicadas have passed through. Cover young trees with netting will prevent cicadas from laying eggs in the branches. This phenomenon won’t happen again for another 17 years, in 2038.
While they may be noisy, cicadas are beneficial. They prune mature trees, aerate the soil, and once they die, their bodies serve as an important source of nitrogen for growing trees. They also provide a food source for animals with insectivorous diets such as birds, small mammals, and many reptiles.
Be sure to register for DCP’s upcoming program: Cicada Safari! Sign up today at www.darkecountyparks.org/programs or call 937-548-0165 for more information.