How to Prepare For the Cicada Emergence

by Lisa A. Koosis
two cicadas on a tree branch

Ask someone to name a natural wonder, and you might expect them to mention Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon — but in 2024, don’t be surprised if the answer is cicadas.

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During the 2024 periodical cicada emergence, people in the Midwest and parts of the South could see millions of these flying insects. Fortunately, cicadas aren’t destructive, so you can sit back and enjoy nature’s big show with little or no preparation.

What Are Periodical Cicadas?

Periodical cicadas are insects of the order Hemiptera. These distinctive bugs are black on top and orange underneath, with reddish-orange eyes and clear, veined wings. With their 3-inch wingspans, they’re much larger cousins to common household pests, such as stink bugs, aphids and bedbugs. However, they only appear occasionally. Although annual cicadas emerge each year to mate, periodical cicadas live underground as wingless nymphs for much of their lives, feeding on sap from tree roots.

Periodical cicadas are classified into groups referred to as broods, and each brood is assigned a Roman numeral. Depending on the type of cicada, these broods emerge from underground every 13 or 17 years to mate, and different broods emerge during different years.

As mature adults, cicadas live only a few weeks. During this time, the females lay their eggs in branches and then die off. Eventually, the next generation of periodical cicadas burrows underground, and the cycle begins anew.

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What Broods Are Emerging in 2024?

In 2024, the main broods emerging are Brood XIII, which is a 17-year brood, and Brood XIX, which is a 13-year brood. In other words, these broods appear every 17 years and every 13 years, respectively. However, stragglers and early arrivals from broods scheduled to emerge in surrounding years may also make an appearance.

When Are the Cicadas Expected to Emerge in 2024?

When the soil temperature 8 inches below the surface reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit, periodical cicadas due to emerge begin tunneling toward the surface. Although they’ll typically appear between late May and June, the date of emergence can vary depending on weather conditions in the region. In southern states, broods may appear as early as late April. The emergence should only last about a month and a half, during which time millions of flying insects are visible in affected areas.

If you’re interested in tracking the emergence, check out a cicada broods map, such as the one available on Cicada Safari. The organization also offers an app through Google Play and Apple's app store, which you can use to track sightings or report your own.

Which Areas Will Be Most Affected?

The broods emerging in 2024 include Brood XIII, the Northern Illinois Brood, and Brood XIX, the Great Southern Brood. As the border between the two broods, Illinois will likely have the highest density of these insects. However, cicadas should be seen in numerous states, including:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin

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Do I Need to Protect My Home, Family and Pets From Cicadas?

Although the ear-splitting hum of millions of cicadas can be deafening, these insects are relatively harmless. They can't bite or sting, they don't eat wood and they don’t transmit diseases to people or animals. Consequently, you don’t need to protect your family, pets or home during their emergence. However, if your pets like to sample moving cuisine, cicadas can be hard to digest and may cause stomach upset, so curious pets should be supervised when venturing outside.

Additionally, the emergence of millions (or billions) of insects can be intense and frightening for some individuals. If you or a loved one is fearful of insects, stay indoors as much as possible during this time. You may also want to consider postponing outdoor activities, such as pool parties, until the brood dies off.

How Do You Prepare Your Trees, Flowers and Garden For Cicadas?

Cicadas seek out woody growth, so they don't harm garden plants and flowers. Trees and shrubs may experience minor damage to leaves and twigs, which is known as flagging. However, the damage is typically minimal, and mature trees and shrubs can easily withstand it. In fact, cicadas can actually benefit your yard by performing crucial functions, such as pruning trees and aerating the soil. Additionally, when they die, their bodies can provide nitrogen as they break down, which is a nutrient trees need to ensure proper growth.

However, female cicadas make slits in twigs to lay their eggs, so they can damage young or freshly planted trees and shrubs. To protect sensitive saplings, cover their canopies with cheesecloth, lightweight fabric or netting with holes smaller than a half-inch. To make sure cicadas can't squeeze underneath, securely fasten the fabric to the trunks of trees or shrubs.

Do Cicadas Bite?

Cicadas don't have jaws, which means they can't bite. Their mouths are designed to draw in sap, so they're equipped to suck instead. Consequently, they can't hurt you.

When Is the Next Cicada Emergence?

Annual cicadas emerge each year, but if you're interested in discovering when the next periodical cicada emergence is due, check out the USDA's cicada brood map.

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Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of eLocal Editorial Content is subject to the

Website Terms and Conditions.

The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA's marketing and sales decisions.

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