By Far the Scariest Bug You'll See All Summer


Cicadas Nashville
Cicada season. Brrr. I was in sixth grade during a major “emergence” of these huge, loud bugs, and despite Mrs. Nadonly’s heroic efforts to get us to consider them cute, interesting, or in any way unterrifying, the back of my neck still gets prickly when I think of the massive influx of shrieking insects over two terrible fortnights.
I’m safely in California now, but back East and throughout the Midwest, cicadas are making their periodical appearance. Are they coming to your town? When? And what can you do about it? Read on!

The cicadas making their appearance through June of this year are from Brood XIX, which has a 13-year cycle. Cicadas hatch during hot weather, so they’re already wrapping up their business in Tennessee while they’ve yet to hatch in northern Illinois, according to John Cooley, a research scientist at the University of Connecticut and the creator of the Magic Cicada website.
He says this emergence is taking place in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. That’s a pretty huge swath of the east coast!
When will your state be hit? How long will it last? That depends on the weather, he says. “A hot spell can make them all come out in one pulse, and you can count on them being around for a month.”
I just remember them being everywhere, and was hoping for some kind of guide as to how to keep them out of the house, off your pets, and away from your kids. But Cooley clearly thought I was nuts.
“Don’t spray,” he told me sternly. “You can’t spray enough to get rid of a population this big, and you’ll just end up killing everything else.” They aren’t locusts, he says, and they aren’t going to destroy any part of the ecosystem -- but you might.
If you have delicate trees that you’re worried about, “wrap them in bird netting or cheesecloth,” he advises, pointing me to his site’s FAQ. In fact, if you have science-geek kids who would like to keep cicadas as pets, a terrarium isn’t the answer. Wrapping a living branch in netting will keep them alive longer, as they need a living limb to nosh on.
Dogs and cats will have a field day chasing and catching these critters, so if your cat is one of those kindly souls who likes to bring you terrifying “gifts,” steel yourself. “Dogs in particular aren’t careful about regulating intake and can gorge on them,” Cooley says. “They might get overfull and sick, but it’s not going to poison them or anything -- they’ll just get a stomach ache.”
Bottom line, there’s no way to attract cicadas elsewhere -- no way to use sugar water at the other end of your yard, no cute contraption to scare them from your door. They don’t sing at night, and in fact he says the quality of their songs will change throughout the day as the four different varieties take turns being most active.
They don’t bite, they aren’t poisonous, and they don’t do anything but scare the crap out of you. “People who are phobic are just gonna hate this, there’s no sugar-coating it,” he says. “But it’ll be over in a month.”
I suggest you wrap your home in cheesecloth or bird netting, myself.
Are you seeing cicadas? Love them or hate them? Or wear them?

Image via Anderson Design Group/

gardening, outdoors, pets, safety, yards


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MaggieCC MaggieCC

You know whats scarier than the cicadas themselves? The noise that they make - during the day make a kind of LOUD hissing noise but there is also this whirring noise in the quiet of the morning that sounds like an alien spaceship has landed - it is FREAKY as they are!

Jeralin Braun-Bucholtz

I remember as a kid cicadas everywhere-I mowed lawn for my grandparents who ran a cemetary(creepy enough) and cicadas were all over the place;

LKRachel LKRachel

ok it sounds like I am completely alone in this but I LOVE cicadas!  I always loved them as a kid and I'm kind of sad I haven't seen any yet this season!  They are buried for years and years and they suddenly emerge, ready to find their mate, and what's the first thing they do?  Sing!  love it.

san3 san3

I'm happy to see I'm not the only one that loves them! It's one of the few things I like bout summer. We are just starting to hear them in central Illinois. Soon enough they will be out in swarms singing their tunes! I love to hear them and think they are cute.

jagam... jagamama0710

Are those the ones that leave their "shells" on the trees? I used to pick those off with my grandpa when I was little, and we would bring them in to scare my grandma. lol 

madfoot madfoot

Lots of people love them! I think I'm the weird one!


Madel... MadelynMc

They are literally falling out of the sky here. I'm not a big fan.

Aurora Lawson

They do bite, if they mistake your leg for a tree limb. My grandmother has the scar to prove  it. However it is probably not the norn for them to do that.

Chelsea Gilbert

I'll take the cicadas over these goddamned stink bugs we have any day!

Melissa Howe Graham

I always loved them as a kid and finding their shedded skins.  And my kids like to find them now, although we are not in one of the states listed, we still get them in small numbers.  I was shocked when years ago my then 3 year old brought me one that was drying off after shedding its skin and carried it around for a long time before letting it go.  Now spiders....that's a different story, they make me cringe.

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