Periodical Cicada – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The 17 Year Periodical Cicada has begun to emerge along the East Coast.

Around our suburban neighborhoods and within the upland forests they are crawling out from the earth as the soil reaches 64 degrees. Once out they climb up anything in sight prior to breaking free from their 17 year old nymphal skin. Once free they dry their wings and the males will begin to call out to the females before they mate.  The female will insert her eggs into the bark of a young tree where the life cycle begins again.  If you come across Magicacicada you can report your findings to be mapped at 

Learn more about cicadas:

  • Watch a video about the Amazing Cicada Life Cycle with Sir David Attenborough from the Amazing BBC Series “Life in the Undergrowth”.
  • Dress a child up as a 17 year cicada.  Put on a black shirt, velcro on six legs, a thorax and abdomen. Wear antennae and hold a straw in your mouth. Put on party store wings.  Make some funky bright red glasses and your ready to party with the periodical cicadas.
17 Year Cicada, Compound Eye Glasses, Buzz Into Action
17 Year Cicada, Compound Eye Glasses
  • Practice drawing  the characteristics of living things with a cicada.
  • Make insect music with the Audible Insects lesson Buzz into Action, the Insect Curriculum for Grades K-4.  You can make cicada music by popping a metal jar lid in and out repeatedly to mimic the sounds of a cicada clicking and vibrating its internal membranes in the abdomen. The interior of a cicada’s abdomen is partially hollow to amplify the sound.
  • Try a CICADA-LICIOUS recipe from Jenna Jadin and the University of Maryland Cicadamaniac’s Cook Book. They recomend roasting the terneral cicadas for 15 minutes at 225F and dipping them in melted chocolate. Place them on wax paper within the fridge to cool until hardened and enjoy!
  • Search Cicada on Pinterest or Buy something Cicada from Etsy
17 Year Cicada Display
17 Year Cicada Display

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at

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