Cicadas: What you need to know about Brood X emerging here

It’s been 17 years since Brood X periodic cicadas last emerged.

The first thing to prepare for is the noise when the first of the brood is expected to emerge. In Southwest Ohio, the cicadas are expected to arrive by mid-May and last for a few weeks.

There will be billions of them, with populations as high as several hundred thousand per acre in wooded areas, according to entomologists at ScherZinger Pest Control.

The cicadas make a piercing noise, but they are not aggressive and won’t sting or bite people or animals, said Mike Wedding, one of ScherZinger’s entomologists.

“I’ve held cicadas, literally hundreds of them, and they won’t even try to hurt you,” he said. “Not even in self-defense.”

When does it start?

Around May 1 through mid-May is when the brood will start to emerge in parts of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey and Maryland. After molting and drying their wings, they mate, lay eggs and die.

How many will emerge?


How loud are they?

A large group can reach 100 decibels and a single cicada can be heard up to a half mile away.

How long will they stay?

Just a few weeks. Some will be gone by Memorial Day.

Are they harmful to people?

No. They don’t carry disease or eat food crops and do not bite or sting.

Are they harmful to pets?

They do not bite or sting animals. Generally it is harmless for dogs and cats to eat them, but consuming too many at once may cause discomfort. People also may notice dogs digging in the yard prior to the emergence because the dogs hear them and may be curious.

What do they eat?

Underground, the developing cicadas live on tree sap from tiny roots. After emerging they consume fluid from trees.

Do they harm trees?

Adult feeding and egg-laying can cause cosmetic damage to mature trees. Younger trees or those already compromised can suffer more lasting damage from an abundance of egg-layers.

How do you protect young trees?

The best advice is to delay planting trees until later in the season this year. Otherwise, use netting to cover the leaves and branches to prevent them from landing on smaller branches to feed or lay eggs.

What if they get in the house?

Cicadas are strong flyers but bad navigators and often crash into moving objects. They can’t breed indoors so they can’t infest your house.

About the Author