Why Do We See Cicadas Every Year?

Yes, you are hearing and seeing Cicadas here in Nashville, TN. Most people think that these invaders only come in large numbers during the thirteen and seventeen year intervals. The largest numbers do occur during the emerging of the next generations in 2021, 2024 and 2025 here in Nashville. However we do have annual Cicadas that appear every year, called Dog Day Cicadas. We begin to see and hear them as the hotter days of summer arrive, hence their name. They do not appear in numbers that are nowhere close to the periodical Cicadas of 13 and 17 years, but they show up every year, buzzing and clumsily flying into us, our cars and homes.

The main differences in the Dog Day and Periodical Cicadas are their color and appearance. The Dog Day Cicadas we are seeing now are slightly larger (at around 2” long) are a black or dark green in color and have black or dark brown eyes. They are also faster flyers than the periodicals. The periodical Cicadas that emerge in very large numbers can be immediately identified with their fear inspiring red eyes. Since the Dog Day Cicada does not arrive as a large army, they are not much concern to us other that possibly bumping into us and scaring us with that loud high pitched squeal. While we find the noise unnerving, it serves this Cicada with the mating process. You can step out in the late afternoon to early evening and hear a chorus of these vibrating loud males looking for their mates. The male is the one that makes this sound with their tymbals that are located in a hollow abdomen. These extreme vibrations inside a hollow structure is what makes their sound so loud, often carrying up to ½ mile through the quiet evening hours. This load vibration is meant to draw a suitable female for mating. Once this is accomplished the female will lay her eggs on tree branches that she cut notches in, to hold the eggs in place. In four to six weeks these eggs hatch and fall to the ground where they burrow and feed on tree and plant roots.

Even though we see these annual Dog Day Cicadas every year, it is only because their generations overlap. Each generation actually takes two to five years to develop into nymphs. These nymphs come back out of the ground and climb up tree and bush branches to complete their metamorphosis into to Cicadas. It is around these trees that we see the creepy looking exoskeletons, with one split in it for the fully developed Cicada to exit. The exoskeletons resemble creepy looking prehistoric bugs that we used to collect as kids to scare visiting grandparents (haha, good clean fun as kids). As adults we are also scared as they plunge at us screaming that loud song while mowing the lawn. These male Cicadas often misidentify the sound of our lawnmowers, weed eaters and leaf blowers as other males, so they want to join in the song to attract females. So beware on the mower, you may be mistaken as a large male Cicada singing your song and occasionally get hit by these speedy yet clumsy fliers.

The Dog Day Cicadas do eat tree sap and can cause minimal damage to tree and shrub limbs, but there numbers are so small it is not much to worry about. So, as you sit on your back porch during these dog days of summer in Nashville, TN, marvel at the extremely loud chorus being sung by the male Dog Day Cicada trying to locate his mate. Their bodies were created perfectly to amplify this long reaching mating call, and it is truly amazing.

Dog Day Cicadas are not a Nashville Pest Control Issue, but may sneak up on you for a quick startle. But the poor Cicada will only bumble off into the sky and look for a good place to land and sing his song. However if you do have other flying insect pests such as wasps, bees or yellow jackets call Certified Pest Control Nashville to inspect your property and provide a free estimate along with a control method to protect your family and home. Our local family is here to provide you the detailed and quality service that you can count on.

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