What are Cicadas?
Cicadas are insects. Insects have three pairs of legs and two pairs of wings. Their body has three sections: head; thorax; and abdomen.
What Do Cicadas Look Like?
The cicada is a large green‐black insect. All four wings are clear and thin. Three ocelli (simple eyes) are present. Periodical cicadas have red eyes and wing veins. A pair of short antennae is located between the compound eyes.
How Big are Cicadas?
Adult cicadas are about one to two inches in body length.
Where Do They Live?
Cicadas may be found statewide in Illinois. Adults live in trees. Nymphs live in the soil.
How Do They Reproduce?
Depending on the type of cicada, the life cycle lasts four to five years, 13 years or 17 years. There are several different broods of both the 17‐year cicadas and the 13‐year cicadas. The broods emerge in different years. Most of the life cycle is spent in the nymph stage. Periodical cicada adults appear in May and June. Usually there are several species emerging at once. After mating, each egg is laid in a separate slit made in a twig. The egg hatches to a nymph that leaves the twig, falls to the ground and enters the soil. Evidence of cicadas is easily seen from the dead, brown twig tips where the nymphs have emerged. When it has reached the point in the life cycle for transforming to the adult stage, the nymph usually crawls a short distance up a tree trunk before molting to the adult form. This brown, shed skin is commonly seen in summer.
What Do They Eat?
The nymphs eat fluids from plant roots. Adults feed on plant sap.
Does Anything Eat Them?
Cicada adults are food for several animals including the cicada killer, birds, squirrels, bats, mantises, spiders and robber flies. They may also be eaten by amphibians, reptiles and mammals when there are big numbers of cicada adults emerging. Newly hatched nymphs may be eaten by ants. Nymphs underground are eaten by burrowing mammals, such as moles.
What Else Should I Know About Them?
The male has sound‐producing organs at the base of the abdomen on the belly side. They make a loud buzzing sound.
The adult lives for about one month.