Are Cicadas Coming to The Wiregrass?

DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) –A storm of cicadas is set to emerge from their slumber.

These cicadas are part of two groups, brood 13 and brood 19.

The last time they both emerged simultaneously, Thomas Jefferson was president in 1803.

Brood 19 will emerge in Alabama in mid-May, but they won’t be here long.

“It’s a short-lived insect. It’s only going to be around for a couple of weeks. Then it will disappear, and we won’t see them again for another 13 years,” said Dr. Meredith Shrader, Auburn University entomologist and insect diagnostician.

Brood 19 emerges every 13 years, and brood 13 emerges every 17 years.

They are different from annual cicadas, which emerge every summer and come from about twenty different species.

Even though brood 19 is the most widespread, will they reach Southeastern Alabama?

The answer lies in our landscape.

“It’s not a blanket emergence across Alabama,” Shrader says.

Cicadas do not tend to feed on the sap of pine trees, which are common in The Wiregrass. They tend to stick to hardwood forests and new landscaping and do not fly far.

A female who lays eggs might also get stuck in the tree and die.

On agricultural lands, Shrader says certain practices are lethal to developing cicadas.

“We’re tilling the ground a lot, we’re planting, we’re pushing trees over even to develop new houses, and so any nymphs that were in the ground are being killed that way,” she says.

Shrader says they are harmless and will mainly stay in hardwood forests, away from home gardens. But they can threaten some landscaping and limit tree growth.

But, she offers this advice:

“See what the cicadas are all about. Listen to them, and hopefully enjoy them, although sometimes they get a little loud.”

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