Photograph taken by Brian McKnight on the Flint River
Cicadas, a creature whose sounds we all relate to warm summer evenings after even hotter days. There are many different species of cicadas, and the ones heard every year are considered annual cicadas. But what about the apocalyptic cicadas we hear about that come out only once every now and again? Well, these are called periodical cicadas, and they emerge throughout the eastern US in late spring and early summer. Some appear every 13 years and others every 17 years; that’s one doozy of a life cycle!
The periodical cicadas begin their emergence in May in the Southeast, crawling out of small holes in the ground where they once tunneled to feed on grass and tree roots. But this is not where the life cycle began. Adult cicadas lay eggs in a notched groove on tree limbs which then hatch cicada nymphs, resembling termites. These nymphs feed on tree fluids until growing large enough to fall to the ground, where they then burrow in for a long life underground. Fast forward 13 or 17 years later, and we have our cataclysmic hatching of the cicada.
This summer in Georgia, despite the hype, the soon-to-hatch, 17-year brood known as Brood X will only occur in a handful of North Georgia counties near the Tennessee and North Carolina border. If you’re in the area of emergence, however, get ready for quite the show; it is estimated that cicada density can be up to 1.5 million cicadas per acre… You heard right, 1.5 million per acre! These high densities of cicadas provide an abundant source of food for a variety of animals, including birds, lizards, fish, turtles, and more.
If you miss out on Brood X’s emergence, don’t worry because the Metro-Atlanta area will see the emergence of Brood XIX in 2024. See the below maps to plan out your Cicada Summer and visit cicadasafari.org to help scientists add to these maps in the future!
Image via USFS
Image via University of Connecticut.
ABOUT THE SOUTHERN CONSERVATION TRUST
Since 1993, the Southern Conservation Trust has dedicated itself to elevating nature through exceptional stewardship. We currently conserve more than 57,000 acres of protected land across 11 states. We don’t just believe in protecting land, we believe people should have access to enjoy it. Preserving nature is what brings us joy!
So we’re focused on making sure that everyone has equal access to nature. We develop public nature areas, provide environmental education, and conserve tens of thousands of acres of land, waterways, and valuable habitat each year. In addition to developing public nature areas, we manage 8 public nature areas in Fayette County with plans to open more late 2021. Click here to learn more about our public natures areas.
We’re extremely excited about our latest project, the Fayette Environmental Education Center, which is set to open late 2021 in Downtown Fayetteville, Georgia, will be our premier nature facility where children, families, and visitors of all ages can connect with the wonders of nature in Georgia. A home base for conservation initiatives, nature area development, environmental education, agricultural education, and an environmental art program. This facility will encompass all that the Southern Conservation Trust does, and share it in a teachable way with the community we love. Click here for more information about the Fayette Environmental Education Center.