Invasion of the Cicadas 2011

(Pictures for this post were taken on my iPhone)

Now I’m starting to really get freaked out. It has started. The invasion of the Cicadas is here and there’s no stopping them!

For a small moment, I thought our yard would would escape the invasion. When we purchased our home six years ago, we literally stripped all the old grass and topsoil and replaced them with several inches of fresh dirt and sod. Almost all the landscaping is new. So, I naively assumed that whatever little thirteen-year-old creatures existed below the surface had been dug up and carried away. Not so.

On Sunday, my daughter, Mary Crimmins, twittered, “If you haven’t done it yet, go out with a flashlight and see the Cicada’s come out. They will be all around trees. Pretty gross!”

I didn’t take her advice, but I should have. Because by the next day, they were already out in full force at my house. I took a look around the yard, assessing the situation and the first thing I saw were these empty “shells” attached to everything.

On my pansies.

All over my Yoshino cherry tree.

Even stuck to my concrete steps.

After thirteen years (some for seventeen years), buried way underground, the Cicadas crawl their way upward and outward.

There are hundreds of these little holes all over my yard. The ones I can see the best are in my flower beds.

Apparently they mostly come out at night. Once they have emerged into the moonlight (that should be a clue) they climb higher and attach their legs securely to something and then begin to break free. I’m not sure how long that takes, but apparently only a few hours.

When they first emerge and stretch their wings their bodies are white. Slowly they turn whatever color they are meant to be. There are many varieties. We happen to have the ones with the huge, eerie red eyes. Creepy!

Can you find him?

Against the fuschia rhododendrons and bright green leaves they can almost look pretty. Almost.

Here’s a video which shows the whole process from start to finish. Even the Enya soundtrack can’t make these guys “pretty.” Enjoy!

One final note. I heard tonight that by this Sunday, the 15th, all the cicadas will be out. So, apparently, what I’ve seen so far is only the beginning. I can hardly wait. I think it’s time for a trip to Colorado.

Question: Do you have cicadas where you live?

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32 Responses to “Invasion of the Cicadas 2011”

  1. For some reason your post got caught in my “pending approval” filter. So sorry. Thank you very much for these links. It’s so fascinating.

  2. …just moved to Az back in Feb from Oregon so this is my FIRST experince with large & loud insects. Just tonight I thought it was a loud cricket that had to be close to the front door – I mean LOUD, I was thinking ‘what is that? Is it inside?’ After paying attention to the pattern of the stop & go electric sound, I thought ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, its cicadas…I didnt know they came out @night!! Thanks for the insight – the video was pretty gross but I couldnt take my eyes off of it. ; )

  3. Wow. I’m wondering how many years it takes for them to grow into “significant” numbers. I’ll have to ask some old-timers around here if they remember cicada invasions when they were kids.

  4. Interesting. I’ve never heard of the “greenhead season.” Biting flies would be NO fun!! Thanks for the info. Have a great August. 🙂

  5. Just two more comments…some PDF’s of older origin. Seems back in the forties they hit the gold mine out here in form of huge varieties of cicadas!

  6. We do have cicadas here in California, sixty five varieties supposedly according to entemologists at Berkeley. Just not in any significant numbers as they are found in the southern and southeast US. Heard one or two last evening here in San Diego area. It’s a great sound to hear when you’re from “back east” but I do agree that not having the huge hoardes is kind of nice too. Enjoy them and be glad they’re not locusts!

  7. Thanks for explaining what the cicadas are all about… I’ve been wondering what all the fuss is about (lots of mentions by many folks on twitter) and your post was great. New England seems cicada free.

    I do live near the ocean and the closest beach has a period that is known as “greenhead season” – terrible nasty biting slow but painful huge flies… they stay around until the first full moon of the summer (usually July) wipes then out. Until then the sign is posted at the entrance of the beach “greenheads in season… no refunds”

  8. Yep. Pretty creepy. At least we only have to deal with them every thirteen years.

    Hang in there with Tennessee. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. LOVE it here. Cicadas and all!

  9. I recently relocated from New York City where I was born and raised and retired and came to TN to be with my children and grandchildren. My first bad experience was a tornado that hit our town the first year I was here. Now the cicadas, not to mention all the other bugs that freak me out. I told my family that I was seriously thinking of going back home where all I have to deal with is noise and crowds which do not bother me in the least. I am strictkly a city person. I am glad to hear that iI am not the only one who gets freaked out with these creatures.

  10. Thanks, for this post. I have hundreds of them in my yard. They are all over my porch rails and my plants. My whole family has been amazed with them for two days now. They are very creepy with their new white bodies and their red beady eyes. I’m glad to have the holes in the ground explained. I thought that they were ant or spider holes. I had no idea that secadas came from underground. I’m in Missouri, but I moved from Kansas. We called them locusts there and they would drive you crazy at night with all of the buzzing. I haven’t heard much here, yet. Again, thanks, for the info.

  11. WOW! I had never even heard of them and am very glad I was in Nashville in Feb! I think this would have totally flipped me out. I can’t even stand the sound of the June bugs hitting the screen door at night. I have to say I am bug challenged. I have tried but I just don’t like them. I may not like the cold and winters in NH but I think I will take it over the bugs.

  12. Debbie Christian May 16, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Gail, the doors are wide open for you here in Black Forest, cicadas or no cicadas! Oh, and I’ve experienced that deafening din 20+ years ago in Virginia, too. Quite an experience.
    Love your blog and love YOU.

  13. Oh what memories you brought of my time living in North Carolina. They would come out all over the yard. My poor dog was just about driven crazy trying to figure out where all that noise was coming from. We don’t get those here in Colorado where I live!

  14. …empty shells attached to everything.

    That particular phrase and your accompanying picture is sticking in my mind, and your husband’s challenge to find a treasure in this is cracking me up!

    Still, I have to think there’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

    Be blessed,
    (who hasn’t yet seen cicadas in Penn Valley, CA!)

  15. We have enough weirdness in California. I’m grateful we don’t have to deal with the weirdness of cicadas too. Gail, your post is fascinating. Thank you.

  16. Jacque Watkins May 12, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Thank you for the wonderful pictures and explanation…we live in Southern CA and do not have cicadas, but my kids are going to love looking at your pictures and video! May you survive the invasion, thank you for sharing!

  17. They shouldn’t come into the house, ‘though I just saw two on my front porch. Oh, joy.

  18. I’m amazed at the memories that are coming back to me as I hear them.

    My most vivid memory was at the Scales Elementary Field Day in Brentwood, TN. I think it was in May of 1998. It was a blistery hot day. You can imagine how tired, hot and thirsty the kids were from all their games, but NO ONE would take refuge in the shade of the trees because they were teeming with cicadas and would fall onto their heads, etc. Surreal.

  19. Creepy crawly. Eewww.

  20. It does make some of those Bible stories come alive, huh?

  21. Very true.

    I remember living on a farm about 10 years ago and those Japanese Beetles were horrible. We collected them in bags by the hundreds.

  22. It’s 9:30am now and I just returned from running an errand. As I drove down my driveway, scores of them were flying around. Yuck is right.

  23. Count yourself lucky. 🙂

  24. I was asking myself the same question. This morning my husband challenged me. He said, “The title of your blog is Treasure Hunt. What treasures can you find in Cicadas?”

    Well, right now, the only treasure I can find is knowing that once they’re gone it’ll be another 13 years before they come back again. I know God made them for a purpose, but I think I’ll leave it for someone else to figure out.

  25. May 12, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Yes, I live in middle TN, also and we are getting a little freaked out. We moved to TN the after the last time these came out. I’m just praying they don’t come into the house!

  26. When the cicadas visited last, Kelsey was in Kindergarten. She came home from school one day with two of them in her lunch box. She was fascinated be them. They really are pretty.

    Just behind our house was a large area of undeveloped property covered in trees. When the mating calls began we could hear the roar inside the house even with all the doors and windows closed. Does give one a bit of sympathy for those poor Egyptians. 🙂

    Now we are in a new neighborhood and too much earth has been turned over here to have even a couple of them in our yard. I saw my first on your steps Tuesday. But Joshua and I enjoyed driving through downtown last evening with the windows open and hearing the love songs beginning.

    Great photos!

  27. I remember the last time they were in Franklin. At their worst, I ran from my car into a store downtown they were so bad. Then while drinking coffee, I felt something moving under my shirt. Haha, I’m glad they don’t bite!

  28. we had a similar invasion a few years ago. feels like one of the plagues, doesn’t it? the thing I remember most is the SOUND of a million cicadas everywhere. kind of relentless.

  29. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, and yes, we do get these nasty things, but not until later in the summer. I don’t ever remember them “invading” though, but we do get the invasion of the Japanese Beetles here badly.

    I do remember watching a cicada “hatch” in the early morning. It was kind of a neat experience since it reminds us that “everything has a season and a time for every purpose!” Evidently your yard is the place and…’tis the season!

  30. mamasgonecrazy May 12, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Ugh! Yuck! I’m in Franklin to, but, I have only seen 3 near my house, and they were on my mailbox.

  31. We don’t have them here in Lincoln, CA but I have been in TN in May and experienced them

  32. Eeeww Gail! (first reaction) – then actually a strange fascination… I was wondering why in the world they would bother to emerge at all…Then I saw that it is for reproduction. I wonder what they contribute to the ecosystem? (Silly I know but I wonder why God actually made them?).
    No, we do not have them here in Fort Lauderdale, at least not that I know of. If we did, our kids would probably make us stay up at night and watch the process. Thanks for the post, I’ll be showing my kids the video – they’ll love it!

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