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17 Things You Didn't Know About Cicadas

It’s cicada season in many parts of the country! And by “cicada season” we mean “the first time many areas have seen the bugs in over 17 years.” In honor of the cicadas’ 17-year swarm cycle we’ve put together a short list of interesting facts you didn’t know about cicadas…

1. Cicadas are vegetarians. They feed on the sap of trees when they’re tiny nymphs and in adulthood prefer to suck the juice right out of plant stems.

2. Guess who makes the loudest sound of any insect? The cicada’s call can be heard from up to 1/2 mile away.

3. Once adults, cicadas only live for 2-40 days. That’s a short life after 17 years stewing underground!

4. Cicadas living in Illinois actually have different mating calls depending on what part of the state they live in. They use these calls to differentiate the species and attract a mate!

5. The Chinese regard cicadas as a symbol of rebirth, fittingly.

6. There are over 2,500 species of cicada in the world. In the US, the most common are part of the 13-year brood and the 17-year brood.

7. Cicadas leave an offensive smell where they hatch. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to combat the smell – you’ll have to wait it out!

8. The bugs aren’t harmful to people or pets but they cause significant damage to crops in some countries.

9. Many cultures (and people in America!) actually eat cicadas. They’re prized as a delicacy in some cultures and are said to taste like canned asparagus.

10. Though they’re often confused, cicadas and locusts aren’t closely related. Cicadas are tied to aphids whereas grasshoppers are a locust’s closest relative.

11. Female cicadas can lay between 400-600 eggs in one reproductive cycle (and dies soon after.)

12. Their digging is actually a decent natural lawn aerator and their carcasses adds much-needed nitrogen to the soil.

13. Female cicadas are sometimes attracted to motors…think gas-blowers, lawnmowers, and cars.

14. Cicadas can reach up to 4″ long in some cases.

15. The bugs live on every single continent with the exception of Antarctica.

16. Male cicadas are known as “imago.”

17. Cicadas are terrible fliers and often bump into things. Males sometimes get confused and try to mate with other males and even dead females, too.

Cicadas won’t hurt you, and they probably won’t hurt your yard, either. Pesticides are ineffective against the bugs so it’s best to enjoy the sounds and wait out this brood!

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