Cicada (Cicadidae)

There are more than 1,500 species of Cicada, 100 to 150 species being found in the United States, but one of the best known is the Periodical Cicada that emerges from the ground every 17 years.

They are known for their loud buzzing noises that are produced by the males with vibrating membranes on their abdomens, which is amplified by great masses of insects to attract female mates. Some Cicada species make the loudest sounds of any insect in the world.

Periodical Cicadas sometimes emerge "off-schedule" by a year or two. When this happens, it is referred to as "straggling.”


Periodical Cicadas are physically distinguished by their large stout black body, broad heads with short antennae, clear-membrane red veins throughout their four wings, and large red protruding eyes. The Cicadas mouth is long and slender, much the same as a beak that helps to suck the sap from plants. If they are allowed to rest on a person's body for an extended amount of time, they might mistake an arm or area of the body that they may be resting on for a plant or tree and attempt to feed.


Periodical Cicadas spend the majority of their life underground located in an area that has a large population of mature trees.


Cicadas are found worldwide except for Antarctica. Periodical Cicadas live in the Eastern U.S. Different broods of 17-year periodical Cicadas appear at different times in different areas of the United States. There can be millions of adult Cicadas flying around at one time.


Cicadas spend most of their lives sucking juice from the roots from a wide variety of plants and shrubs.

Life Span: 

Periodical Cicadas spend the majority of their lives underground. Once they emerge, adult Cicadas live above ground for about six weeks and complete one final molt, shedding their exoskeleton on a nearby tree branch or plant for the last time. They emerge as an adult Cicada with wings, and fly away to find a mate. The abandoned exoskeleton remains as a reminder that they had emerged.

They are often consumed by many different animals, including birds, rodents, moles and lizards. Many countries also find Cicadas a delicacy and prepare dishes and desserts for human consumption, such as Cicada Tacos or Cicada rhubarb pie.  You should not consume these delicacies if you have allergies to shellfish.

Family Life: 

Species in the Cicada family don't take care of their offspring. Once they emerge from below, they remain above ground for about 5 to 6 weeks to reproduce. They climb to nearby vegetation and molt in leaves, and breed. The females can lay up to 600 eggs. The newly hatched Cicadas are called nymphs. They don’t have wings. They drop or climb to the ground from the branch their egg was on and burrow into the ground with their strong front legs and begin feeding on the plant juices in roots. The process repeats itself with them growing, shedding their exoskeleton many times, until they emerge 17 years later.