Portrait of Cicada

© Fernando Trabanco Fotografía - Moment/Getty Images

Prepare for the Return of the Cicadas

March 29, 2021

After lurking underground for up to 17 years, millions of Brood X cicadas are expected to emerge this spring in a handful of states. Cicadas, which shed their skin, can leave behind mounds of shells in trees, on homes, and in yards. These insects also are known as the loudest in the U.S. and can be heard up to a half-mile away. Prepare to brush away some cicada skins prior to home showings if you live in one of these cicada-prime states:

  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

Certain breeds of cicadas emerge every year, but the Brood X cicadas are a special sort that only come out every 13 to 17 years. They live underground as larvae during those years and then emerge when it’s time to mate. These cicadas usually reappear for about four to six weeks between May and June, although that can depend on location and climate.

Cicadas, which are about two to three inches long, don’t pose harm to humans or their homes, although the bugs are known as a nuisance. Plants and young trees in the yard may be susceptible to minor damage from cicada infestations. Orkin, a pest control company, recommends picking adult cicadas and nymphs off plants by hand or knocking them off with a garden hose. Netting can also be used to protect young plants, Orkin recommends.

Although cicadas typically don’t infest homes, it’s wise to keep windows and doors closed when they are active. “These insects are strong but clumsy fliers, sometimes running into objects that get in their way,” Orkin notes. “It is common for a cicada to fly into a home, especially when residents leave doors or windows open. Cicadas cannot breed indoors, so infestations in houses are unlikely.”

How to Get Rid of Cicadas When the Brood Arrives,” Lifehacker.com (March 28, 2021) and Orkin