We all recognize that distinct summertime sound. Some of us love it others find it annoying. Anyway you look at them, Cicadas are part of our summers. Now if you grew up in the northeast US especially the cycles of Cicadas were interesting, 3, 7, 10, and even 17 years! Here in South Florida, our climate keeps our trees full of cicadas every summers. So what are cicadas? What do they eat? Should you worry about Cicadas with your family? Lets take a closer look at these noisy bugs of summer.
What are Cicadas?
Cicadas are not locusts, these are two very different insects. Locusts are certain types of grasshoppers that swarm. Cicadas on the other hand are easily identifiable. They have plump bodies that are usually dark in color along with transparent or nearly clear wings. You know when there are some in the trees as there exoskeleton they shed in their final molting can be found empty, clinging to the tree trunks. The insects are technically Cicadoidea in the order Hemiptera and suborder Auchenorrhyncha. Now that we got the technical terms out of the way, lets get back the bugs. An interesting part about cicadas is that their life cycle is almost entirely underground. They will molt four times while underground over a period of years while they are developing. Their fifth and final molt comes on the side of the tree when they finally are mature and emerge.
What do they eat?
While underground, they feed on tree root sap and other roots, causing minimal if any noticeable damage. Also when in the adult stage of their life they are not known to cause any damage due to their eating habits. As adults they are concerned with finding a mate and laying eggs as this final summer stage of their life, only lasts a few weeks. In order to find a mate these insects will make one of the loudest sounds any insects on earth make. Only the males have the ability to make sound and their calls can be up to 120 decibels. This means as close range they could actually cause hearing damage to humans. Interestingly, cicadas do have “ears” to hear and they actually turn their ability to hear off while making calls to avoid damaging their own hearing!
Should you worry about them?
Cicadas are not something you should worry about for yourself or your family. They are not known to carry and diseases and they do not swarm, sting or bite. Since they don’t typically make noise at night, they don’t even bother you when your camping or have the windows open. If you are brave enough some people also eat them. Over two billion people on the earth eat bugs every day. You can always do a quick search for recipes and techniques for collecting and cooking up these high protein insects should you desire. Since these cicadas are harmless they are not considered a pest so we do not spray to get rid of them. Go ahead and enjoy their few weeks of summer songs that in their lives, has been years in the making.