17-Year Cicadas Making Their Presence Known

POLK COUNTY, Iowa — The sound of cicadas is a part of every summer in Iowa but the annual cicadas we’re all used to hearing have a little company from a species that takes nearly two decades to emerge.

“We have the chance to hike our trails and here the chorus of the 17 year cicada. They’re putting on a wonderful sound fest for us and will for about 5-6 weeks,” said Lori Foresman-Kirpes, a naturalist with Polk County Conservation.

Over the past two weeks, thousands of adult 17 year cicadas have emerged from the roots of trees, leaving their exoskeletons behind. In the next six weeks, you’ll hear that loud buzzing sound which is the male mating call. After the males and females mate, the females will leave their eggs in tree branches. By the end of the summer, the “nymphs” or babies will head back underground, the adults will die off, and you won’t see this species again for another 17 years. For now, there are thousands of these critters flying around areas with mature trees. Some campers say they’ve made it one noisy Father’s Day weekend.

“It was deafening when we first pulled into the park. After we had supper, it was still really loud. About 8 PM, someone flipped the switch and it was just the normal bugs we heard, not the loud cicadas,” said Scott Brink, a camper.

Cicadas are mostly harmless, but can cause damage to crops and trees.

View a photo gallery of the hatching cicadas here.

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