Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Periodical Cicada

Periodical Cicadas are all the talk among entomologists in the Midwest this year. The 13 year brood has been emerging for several weeks now. The emergence began in Southeast Missouri and has progressed further north. The epicenter is in and around Columbia, MO. There are four species of 13 year cicadas all in the genus Magicicada. 
Their coloration is distinctive: the body is black with red to orangish-red eyes, and yellow-orange wing veins. They are noted for mass-emergence of adults and the formation of choruses of singing males on a 17-year or 13-year period. Unmistakable as a genus---in order to determine species, examination of the underside of the abdomen is necessary.
Joey drove to Columbia, MO yesterday with his friend Doug to help move Doug's daughter back to KC. While he was there he said the noise these cicadas were making was deafening. He even spoke to the woman next door who told him that her dog cannot hear her call to him over the din of the cicadas. He described it as some exotic torture devised by Mother nature, an all out onslaught to the ears of high pitched screaming.  He described seeing thousands of them flying between the trees, and crawling all over the ground. He scooped one up to bring back to me (photographed here). 

I was so excited that he thought of me and brought me one for my insect collection. It still remains to be seen as to whether they will emerge this far north in Missouri. The closest location to me I've heard they've been found is about 35 minutes south of where I live. I may have to investigate that location and see if I can find them. According to this range map they shouldn't be anywhere near me, including the location south of me where they were reportedly we shall see what happens.
Joey hopes they don't emerge here....I on the other hand am praying they do! 

UPDATE: My brother-in-law brought me about a dozen of these cicadas tonight (June 3, 2011). He found them in Fillmore, which is in Andrew County Missouri, in the NW Corner (white area on map). According to this range map they are not reported from there. We can now verify they are definitely in Andrew County. 


  1. Looks like i need to go hunting for some.I liked the map.

  2. Shelly,
    How many do you want? I'm selling 'em CHEAP!!!

  3. They are loud here! Well we can hear them some here at the house but down at the river my ears were ringing by the time we left. They were falling in the water and myhusband would just pluck them out and use them for bait! ;)

  4. I hope you find them Steve, I hope to see some this Saturday while I am in southern Missouri

  5. LOL George, I'll take as many as you can spare....

  6. Tonia---I bet they would make great bait, with so many falling the fish are going to be stuffed to the gills...LOL

  7. Shelly,
    On a dare from my eight-year-old daughter, I ate one, raw, this weekend. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being having your leg caught in a buzzsaw, and 10 being lying on the beach with Sandra Bullock wiping my brow and bringing me drinks, it was about a 5.

    I MIGHT even try rolling a few in cornmeal and frying them up, if ONLY to disgust my wife!

  8. Hi Shelly: I was about to ask if you were in the emergence zone for periodical cicadas this year. But your outstanding blog said it all.

    In Iowa we are expecting Brood XIX per-cics (a new word I just made up!) in about 7 or 8 counties in the extreme SE corner of the state.

    I had one report so far of premature emergence (the 4-years-early-phenomenon) of Brood IV in SW and south-central Iowa. The premature emergence of Brood III was evident last year. Brood IV is much smaller and more scattered so harder to get reports.

    Too hot in Iowa to move around much today. Currently 96 outside my office.

    Thanks for the update from your area!

    Donald Lewis

  9. Hi there Dr Lewis, it is so nice to hear from you. I've been wondering how things were up your way. The cicadas are sure the subject of many conversations around these parts. I was so surprised to find them in our area. Last night while out in the front yard I noticed one flying across the yard and heard a few in the trees, but did not collect any. So apparently they are also in this part of Andrew County. We are well away from the epicenter of their emergence in Missouri though. The central part of the state near the capital and on the eastern side of the state near St. Louis are experiencing plague-like numbers. I would love to witness that. I heard there were a lot of premature emerging broods throughout the United States, many were attributing it to global warming.
    It is super hot here too, mid-90's also. It seems too early for that kind of heat.