About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cicada mania not coming to Michigan until 2021

If you’ve seen the news lately you may have heard about the emergence of the amazing 17 year cicadas due this year in the eastern United States.

Magicicada septendecim female (Brood X). by C. Simon
According to Michigan State University Extension, “Officially known as periodical cicadas, there are seven species of these large, tough and noisy insects in the United States. Three species have a 17-year cycle and four species have a 13-year cycle. There are 15 different “broods” of periodical cicadas in the country, with differing geographic ranges and cycling. The brood of adults that is emerging this year (2013) in many eastern seaboard states is Brood II. Brood X, the one that exists in several Midwestern states including Michigan, is not due for an emergence until 2021.

The life history of periodical cicadas is one of the most fascinating in the insect world. To start with, very few insects have long lives – most complete their life cycles in one year or less, so a 17-year life span is remarkable. One would expect that the variability of environmental factors such as temperature, food availability or quality, etc., would allow some individuals to mature ahead of others while others might be delayed, but the coincidence of adult emergence in the proper cycle year by billions of individuals shows that there is an astounding synchrony and consistency to their developmental pace.

The adult cicadas feed on stems and branches of plants by sucking out sap, and even at high numbers this is not particularly injurious to plants. However, there is great harm done to trees in the process of laying eggs. Females use their sharp ovipositor to insert eggs under the bark of branches, causing a die-back of the branch beyond the point of injury. This damage can be very widespread and destructive to trees in forests, landscapes and orchards. In a few weeks, tiny immature cicadas called nymphs hatch from the eggs and immediately move to the ground and burrow into the soil. The nymphs, depending on the species, will spend the next 13 or 17 years below ground feeding on sap from the roots of woody plants.”

For more information on periodical cicadas and their relatives:

2 comments:

kathy jane said...

Is brood II the 13 or 17 yr cycle?

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Every 17 years, Brood II tunnels en masse to the surface of the ground, lays eggs, and then dies off over the span of several weeks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brood_II