The annual sounds of summer are here. Lawnmowers, kids in the pool, and of course ... cicadas!
You've seen their shell-like "skins" sitting motionless on trees and porch-swings, and no doubt you've heard their deafening sound. So what's up with this mid-summer cicada invasion? Is this one of those years where they come out in droves? I decided to ask an expert. What I discovered is that nature is basically operating right on schedule … with a slight twist.
Michael Merchant, Professor and Extension Urban Entomologist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, ensures me that this year's cicadas are not mounting an attack (even though it sounds like it in my neighborhood!).
Merchant said these cicadas are pretty much normal, "The cicadas we typically get in the Dallas area are generically referred to as annual cicadas or dog-day cicadas as opposed to the periodical cicadas that come in massive numbers every 13-17 years in parts of the eastern U.S."
Here in North Texas, even though it may seem like cicada mania, we're not experiencing a biblical-type invasion associated with the periodical cicadas. Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio are some of the states dealing with that type of invasion this year.
While most of our cicadas are from the annual species this year, Merchant said a few periodic cicadas have been reported here in North Texas.
He explained, "This is apparently a relatively small population of Brood IV of the 17-year locust, a little out of sync with most of its brood."
Apparently, these "stragglers" missed the memo and are just now arriving four years late. You can read more about those late-bloomers here.
I asked Merchant how he could be so sure these are part of the 17-year group? He explained the two species look quite distinct.
"Annual and periodical cicadas look very different. Our common annual cicada is green and black with a whitish underside. The periodical cicada is mostly black with strikingly red eyes. Wing veins are orange."
So there you have it. There's no need for concern - unless they're keeping you awake in the evening. Let's face it, those suckers are loud! Well, at least the males are. They're the ones making all the noise, as they're trying to impress the females. (Ahem).
And get this, Merchant informs me that cicadas are the loudest insects in the world!
For more fun facts including how cicadas make such a loud noise check this site out.