Hearing cicadas again? It's not Brood X. What to know about the bigger, annual cicadas

·3 min read

A familiar buzz may be ringing in your ears but it’s not from Brood X. Annual cicadas, a different breed, are emerging from the ground across the Midwest and east coast.

Annual cicadas emerge every year in the middle of summer. Although it is not known how long ago the eggs laid, these cicadas live for only about two to three years – over a decade shorter than Brood X.

The last of Brood X cicadas died out earlier this summer, most of them in June and early July, after spending about six weeks buzzing around looking for a mate.

The new brood of cicadas will sing a different tune than their predecessors but come out in smaller numbers, according to Gene Kritsky, dean of behavioral and natural sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.

"Adults can live for about four weeks and we will see them now until September," he said.

The periodical cicada (right) is half to three-quarters the size of the annual cicadas that come out every summer.
The periodical cicada (right) is half to three-quarters the size of the annual cicadas that come out every summer.

What’s the difference?

The annual cicadas are larger and also camouflaged colored.

Most annual cicada species are more green and brown with dark eyes, and have a larger, stockier build. Members of Brood X stand out for their bright red eyes and dark bodies, and are a bit slimmer and smaller than annual cicadas.

Kritzky said there are over 150 species of cicadas sprawled out through the U.S. and Canada and most have different calls and different looks.

The annual cicadas come out in smaller numbers, so their buzzing may not be as noticeable as Brood X.

In the most concentrated areas during the emergence of Brood X, there were as many as 1 million periodical cicadas per acre.

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Missouri won’t experience periodical cicadas until 2024, but its annual cicadas (pictured) will make their appearance this summer. The Missouri Department of Conservation encourages the public to learn more about these unique insects and the vital role they play in the ecosystem.
Missouri won’t experience periodical cicadas until 2024, but its annual cicadas (pictured) will make their appearance this summer. The Missouri Department of Conservation encourages the public to learn more about these unique insects and the vital role they play in the ecosystem.

What happened to Brood X?

The adult members of Brood X have died off at this point, but their offspring are still above ground.

Adult periodical cicadas emerge from their 17 years underground for one purpose: to mate and have baby cicadas, called nymphs.

Once a male cicada mates with a female cicada, he dies. The female cicada will then lay eggs in the thin spindly ends of tree branches, laying them in a thin groove she makes using a tool on her abdomen. After her job is done, she, too, dies.

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After six to eight weeks, those cicadas will hatch and drop to the ground. They will then burrow down as quickly as they can to escape predators on the ground.

Kritzky said he heard his last Brood X cicada in early July.

"He was singing to possibly find a mate, but he missed the party," he said.

Cicadas are photographed in the studio during the emergence of Brood X 17-year cicadas in Indianapolis on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
Cicadas are photographed in the studio during the emergence of Brood X 17-year cicadas in Indianapolis on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

After that, the cicadas will latch onto tree roots and stay underground, sucking tree fluids for almost two decades before emerging and starting the process all over again.

The next brood will emerge in 2038.

How long will the annual cicadas be around?

Annual cicadas emerge every year and will be around through September or early October, Kritsky said.

The insects’ life cycles are similar to that of periodical cicadas — albeit far shorter.

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Follow London Gibson and Asha Gilbert on Twitter: @londongibson, @Coastalasha.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Annual cicadas emerge in US after Brood X dies this summer