What’s With The Cicadas?

Why the appearance of cicadas (the 17-year locust) in the greater Washington D.C. area?

Perhaps it’s climate confusion.  Maybe it’s just really hard for a 17-year cicada to count down the years while he’s buried underground. Why this is happening is a total question mark, but a small fraction of the 17-year cicadas — the ones we’re supposed to see in 2021 — are creeping out of their underground burrows four years early.

Apparently the D.C.-area cicadas just lost track of time.

Periodical cicadas are warm-weather insects.  They emerge only after the ground temperature reaches the mid-60s about eight inches below the surface.  It’s all about the ground temperature as they typically emerge during the month of May in our region.

So far, the current batch of early-arriving cicadas are sparse in numbers and are quickly falling victim to feasting birds.  The next week or two will be telling if they continue to emerge in larger numbers and begin to mate, or fade to a brief, buzzing memory with some well-fed birds flying around the D.C. area.

Look out for May 2021, however, that will be the time when the vast majority of Brood X arrives.

As sundown approached last evening I took pictures of a pair of breeding bluebirds feeding their young.

The female brought in a cicada nymph, which I’m sure constitutes a super-size-me snack for the fledglings.  Bring on the feeding bonanza!

The following are some great references and article on periodic cicadas:

Periodical Cicadas Explained


Check out the Brood Chart for 2017 Emergence


Cicadas Rising 4-Years Too Early!