The Song of the Cicadas

August 4, 2020

Stepping onto your back porch or deck on a warm summer’s day, you will hear the song of the cicadas. These insects are very well known, and some children are warned of the upcoming start of the school year when they hear the cicada’s music.

What is a cicada, and how do they make their music?

According to the website, 

Cicadas (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cicadidae) are insects, best known for the songs sung by most, but not all, male cicadas. Males sing by flexing their tymbals, which are drum-like organs found in their abdomens. Small muscles rapidly pull the tymbals in and out of shape. The sound is intensified by the cicada’s mostly hollow abdomen. Female and some male cicadas will also make a sound by flicking their wings, but it isn’t the same as the sound for which cicadas are known.

Each species of cicada makes its unique sound. Some sound like a buzz or whirl, while others appear to be clicking. The sounds are how they communicate, and it is their love song to initiate reproduction.

Cicada extermination in Albany NY

Cicada or Cicadidae or Tettigarctidae, vintage engraving. Old engraved illustration of Cicadas.

Can cicadas hurt my family or me?

No, they are harmless to your family and your beloved pets. They do not bite or sting.

However, if you own an orchard or grapevines, you may not feel so sure.

After they breed, cicadas actually use a sharp tube to inject their eggs into branches and vines of trees, which can cause quite a bit of damage for anyone who manages an orchard or vineyard, or simply grows trees on their property. “Cicadas can occur in overwhelming numbers and growers in predicted areas of activity should be watchful,” professor and entomologist Doug Pfeiffer, Ph.D., explained in Virginia Tech’s statement.

Beyond that, he says, “this insect is really fascinating, and if you don’t have fruit trees or grapevines to protect, you can enjoy this phenomenon while it lasts.”

Fun facts about cicadas

We may sound a little dorky, but we love to share fun facts about the insects, pests, and nuisance wildlife that we deal with daily. Did you know:

  • There are more than 3,000 species of cicadas.
  • There are annual cicadas which are seen every year and periodical cicadas living underground and come out every ten years or so.
  • Some cicadas can live for 10-15 years!
  • It is a male cicada that creates the music, and the tones and sounds vary depending on their purpose.
  • The world’s loudest cicada’s sound peaks at 106.7 decibels!
  • The cicada killer wasp is their enemy. They are large and in charge weighing in at upwards of an inch to two inches. Often mistaken for a yellow jacket due to their markings, and their venom makes for a severe sting.

How do I get rid of cicadas?

Cicadas are not aggressive but can be very intimidating due to their size. Most are between 1-2 inches long, with wingspans over 5 inches. Cicadas are common in our area, especially around water and harbor areas where they burrow and tunnel.

If you are unsure if you have cicadas or damage from cicadas, give us a call at 518-374-0357. We will come out and inspect your home or business and discuss treatment options with you.

Resources: and, and

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