Quarantine is coming to an end and we are all looking forward to running outside in the sunshine. Just as we started to make plans to greet spring and summer with friends we got a painful and sad reminder.
It’s a cicada year. Brood X.
After 17 years, these annoying pests will soon emerge from our lawns and completely dominate our daily outdoor lives for several weeks.
Can we reclaim our backyards?
Is it safe?
This is really a matter of preference and tolerance.
Can cicadas bite or sting?
The important thing to remember this spring is that cicadas are annoying, but not harmful.
When brood X – or any cicada- emerges from the ground they only have one plan. They want to mate with another cicada and lay some eggs. That’s it.
They don’t eat. In fact, they don’t even have mouths, so they cannot bite.
Most insects have built-in defenses, such as biting and stinging, that they must use against predators. Importantly, cicadas don’t need these defenses. Their strength comes from all hatching at the same time. It’s simple math: the birds can’t eat all of them. Because they hatch in such large numbers, enough of them will survive to mate that in 17 years we can be assured that they will return.
The takeaway: they can’t bite you and they can’t sting you.
They are not harmful.
Cicadas can be very annoying
Even though cicadas can’t bite or sting you, that doesn’t mean they can’t ruin what would otherwise be a nice day outside.
In their rush to mate, they call out with an insanely loud sound made by rubbing their wings rapidly together. These calls have been measured to be as loud as a jet taking off nearby. this makes it very hard to enjoy an evening with friends on the patio.
In their highly optimistic and excited state, cicadas rush around hoping to find a mate. What they sometimes find instead is a drinking glass or a lawn mower or your hair.
This can be annoying or startling. However, if one gets in your drink, they haven’t ruined it. Cicadas are, after all, edible.
Perhaps the worst annoyance with cicadas is how many of them there are. very quickly they will cover the trunks of your trees and your outdoor surfaces. You’ll need to clean your pool filters and your gutters frequently until they are gone.
Swimmers will occasionally emerge from the water and find one on their head.
An annoyance? Yes.
But this should not be the end of your summer fun.