Area to be host to cicada swarm

Spend any amount of time during summer outdoors, and you will hear an unmistakable hum coming from the trees around you.

The hum comes from an insect, the cicada, and according to experts it may be getting even louder in the near future, if they aren’t already in your neck of the woods.

A certain brood of the bug will be making an appearance around the state this summer for the first time in 13 years. The bugs develop underground in the time span, and then emerge in a swarm. While that may sound frightening, experts say there’s no need to panic.

“They’re really no big deal,” said Regional Extension Agent Nelson Wynn. “They won’t eat on houses, they don’t do any structural damage, and they don’t bite. They’re really just a nuisance.”

Cicadas live off the xylem found in trees. They lay their eggs inside the grooves of tree bark, and while this brood (Number 19, to be specific) of the insect lives 13 years, once they get above ground they won’t live more than six weeks. Wynn said the only things that can really suffer from their swarm are underdeveloped trees.

“They can cause significant damage to small trees and fruit trees,” he said. “The only thing to do is to protect them with a small cloth or netting.”

The familiar hum or “buzz” comes from the flexing of skin on the abdomen of the bugs, in order to attract a mate. Wynn cautioned that while the noise can be irritating, using chemicals to kill the bugs won’t do much good.

“They’re just making a lot of noise,” he said. “Insecticides don’t provide that much protection against them because there are so many of them. Plus, they can smell bad [once they are dead].”

For more information on the Brood 19 cicadas, contact Wynn at 205-669-6763.

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