The story went on to tell about how they live underground and only come out every 17 years and cause a nuisance while they are here to mate. Big news! It only happens every 17 years!
Wait a minute! That’s what they said last year. And the year before.
So I looked into it further. I know that we hear them singing every summer and are as much a symbol of summer as sunburn and picnics. We see the shells of them on the tree trunks where they shed them.
What’s the deal? I searched the internet – the modern source of all knowledge – and found Cicadamania with more than anyone could want to know about them.
Apparently, the ones that come out en masse every 17 years, the Magicicada Cicada, are not the ones we have, Tibicen, which are another genus. Also, the 17 year cycle is geographical, so the emergence happens in different places every seventeen years, but happens somewhere every year.
This years’ brood, labelled XIV, won’t quite reach New York, although some of PA will see them. You can see a map of where they will appear here.
The annual cicadas that we hear appear later in the season, July or August. That’s why we associate their sound with the Dog Days of Summer. The 17 Year ones usually come in May, so they must be late this year due to cool temperatures. They’re probably on the news because they are appearing now.
Incidentally, the Cicadamania site got it’s start as a wedding picture page. When cicadas invaded the wedding reception and became the subject of many of the photos, it gained a reputation as a source of cicada lore. Cicadamania was born!