Maddy: What’s the Buzz?

Published 10:00 am Friday, May 5, 2017

The last time you may heard this buzz was seventeen years ago, the year of Y2K. There was a lot of buzz about that as well. Brood VI of the red-eyed periodical cicadas are now making their appearance in Georgia. You might be red-eyed too if you spent the last seventeen years underground.

What’s interesting about these cicadas is that millions of them emerge simultaneously. The males sing during the day to attract the females and this “noise” can be heard over great distances. The sound level produced by a “chorus” of males can reach 100 dB. The good thing is that it will be over by Memorial Day and red-eyed periodical cicadas will net be seen again until 2034.

You don’t need to be frightened by them although they look fierce. They neither bite nor sting. After mating, female cicadas lay their eggs under the bark of tree branches. The branch tip might dry up and fall off causing a natural pruning effect. Older trees are unharmed but younger trees may be stunted.

After hatching, the nymphs drop to the ground and burrow into the soil to feed on roots. Seventeen years later they emerge to become supper for turkeys, moles and reptiles. They emerge wingless until they molt again. The pale winged adult emerges from the split back. You’ll see these “shed skins” on tree trunks. They are only able to fly after their new skins harden and their wings expand.

The trees that periodical cicadas emerge under must be at least seventeen years old. If the tree has been removed or the area paved, the nymphs will die and no cicadas will emerge.

Cicadas provide amusement for dogs and cats. Cats enjoy batting them around while dogs like to munch and crunch them down. They are not poisonous and some humans also enjoy their taste.

Another cicada that makes an appearance every year are called “dog day” cicadas.  They are common throughout Georgia and can be differentiated from red-eyed periodical cicadas by their black eyes and are larger. The red-eyed variety are about an inch long. The “dog day” cicada persist all summer long and the red-eyed only for a month.

They are not “locusts.” Cicadas are “true bugs” and belong to the taxonomic order Hemiptera while locusts are grasshoppers belonging to the order Orthoptera.

Be on the lookout for red-eyed cicadas and report your sighting on

What’s going on in Extension?

Jefferson Street Market has transferred to Sim’s Pond on Bailey Road off Roanoke Rd. It begins Saturday mornings from 9:30 AM to noon.

May 15th: Beekeepers Meeting, 7 PM at the Ag Center

May 16th: Troup County Cattleman’s, Sprayer Calibration, Dinner is at 7 PM, cost $6.00, call ahead and the program begins at 7:30 PM at the Ag Center.

If you have any questions or concerns, stop by or call the office.

Brian Maddy is the ANR Agent for Troup County Extension. The Troup County Extension office is located at 114 Church Street, LaGrange, GA. 30240 (706) 883-1675. Monday – Friday/8:00 AM – 12 noon and from 1:00 PM – 5:00pm.