image of periodical cicada. black body, orange-clear wings, red eyes

People all over social media are buzzing about this 13-year cicada emergence! You see things like “invasion” and “America’s Cicada ‘apocalypse.’” Numbers are projected at millions or even trillions of bugs emerging.

In 2024, we will see the emergence of both 13-year and 17-year cicadas in addition to the cicadas that emerge every year. For us in Georgia, we won’t see the 17-year brood as they are mainly in the Midwest. For the remainder of this post, we will focus just on the 13-year brood of Periodical Cicadas. They have been named Brood XIX or “The Great Southern Brood.”

They can be annoying, but are they a Pest?

No! Cicadas cannot bite or sting. They are not poisonous, so they are safe to eat. Mainly we are referring to your cat or dog who may be attracted to their call. However, there are some recipes online for cooking cicadas for human consumption – if you are feeling brave enough.

The only damage we would expect to see from these cicadas comes from egg laying habits. The females will lay eggs under the bark, near the end of branches. This can kill the end of the branch, but it won’t be too much damage. You just may see some dead leaves falling and the end of the branch may come down too. Because this is not a large impact and doesn’t affect the entire tree, they are not considered “pests.”

Because they are not a pest, you really shouldn’t do anything to try and control them. There is no need for pesticides or removal. These adult cicadas will only be around for a couple of weeks and then start dying after mating. Be patient and the nuisance will be gone soon.

13 Years???

These cicadas spend 12 years and 11 months of their lives underground feeding on sap from tree roots. We aren’t sure how they instinctually know to emerge so long after birth and within the same month as each other. One of nature’s wonders!

In their life cycle, they spend majority of this time in nymph stages. These baby cicadas were born in 2011 when their parents emerged 13 years ago.

Trees younger than 13 years would not have a population of these cicadas residing in their roots. If a tree has been removed in those 13 years, the baby cicadas would have died with the tree.

What is different about these cicadas?

If you have spent any time in South Georgia during the summer, you are very familiar with the calls of cicadas. These Periodical Cicadas are emerging sooner than our usual suspects. Every year, the cicadas we interact with are called “Dog-Day” or “Annual Cicadas.” This loving name refers to the time of year they emerge (the Dog Days of summer) and that they emerge every year (annually.)

Annual Cicadas have green, black, and brown bodies. Their wings are translucent, but green in color. Also, they have black eyes. To differentiate between the two, Periodical Cicadas have black bodies, translucent-orange wings, and bright red eyes. They should be very easy to tell the difference when you know what to look for! View pictures below for a visual reference.

Periodical cicadas:

Annual cicadas:

Will I see a Periodical Cicada?

Maybe. At the time of the last emergence, none were reported in Glynn or McIntosh Counties. We did see them in neighboring counties, so it is possible that they have crossed county lines. If you believe you have found one, please share your images with our Agriculture Agent, MC Halbrook,

Additionally, you can report sightings on iNaturalist and interested agencies will be able to monitor the spread of this species!