UGA leads mapping of adult cicadas' emergence
by By Marie Nesmith
May 20, 2011 | 1798 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Marie Nesmith

While they might be more prevalent in central Georgia, the 13-year cicadas are starting to make their presence known in the state's northwest region. In Bartow County, several residents already have called Cartersville's Extension Office, relaying they have heard the singing insects. Referred to as "the song of summer," the loud daytime noise associated with the adult cicadas is the male insect's mating call.

"They are already here. I've heard several people say that they have heard them," said Bartow County Extension Coordinator Kathy Floyd. "The official [release from the University of Georgia] says that they are in standing hardwoods. They tend to group there. In town, where we work I have not heard any ... but we have had people tell us that they have heard them, and they are pretty loud. It's not really a buzz. If it were not as loud, it might sound a little bit more like crickets. But, it's kind of a dull, little roar with [a cricket-like sound]. But it is pretty loud.

"We had some 4-H'ers who were in Eatonton at the [Rock Eagle] 4-H Center with the shotgun/skeet state match, and they said, 'You could hear them over the shotgun blasts.' That's how loud it was there. Now they're next to a little national forest there -- a preservation area -- so there would be nothing to disturb them out there. So that's pretty loud. I think they're only out like this for just a few weeks. I want to say three to four weeks at the most."

Since immature cicadas reside below ground for 13 years, dining on juice from tree roots, their adult forms are emerging in mature hardwood areas. Having shed their shells, the insects that individuals are seeing are the adult cicadas of eggs that were hatched in 1998. About an inch and a half in length, the periodical cicadas are known for their red eyes and orange-veined wings, Floyd said. After appearing from underground, the insects will only have a couple of months to mate and lay eggs prior to dying.

To engage youth in this 13-year occurrence, UGA's Department of Entomology is encouraging students to email photos of the cicadas they discover, along with mailing collected adult cicadas to the Georgia National History Museum.

According to a news release from Nancy Hinkle with the UGA's Department of Entomology, "Cicadas are not pests, so there is no reason for alarm. This emergence is a great opportunity for an up-close view of this amazing phenomenon. Children who experience this year's cicada emergence will not see this group of cicadas again until they themselves are adults. ... [To map the cicada emergence] tell us when and where you first saw cicadas this year.

"We're asking people to take photos of cicadas and shed cicada skins that they find and email them to If you want to contribute specimens for future study, please send them to the Georgia Natural History Museum so that researchers can study this year's population.

"Here are instructions for how to submit specimens -- we ask that you send at least six adults, to provide a good sample.

* If the cicadas are not already dead, put a half dozen of them in the freezer overnight to kill them compassionately. Note that the request is for adults, not shed skins.

* Then wrap each one individually in tissue or cloth. Place them in a mailing tube or box with additional padding.

* Include a note with your name, the town and county where they were collected and the date of collection.

* Ship them to the following address and know that Georgia's Natural History Museum greatly appreciates your donation -- Dr. Cecil Smith, 178 Natural History Building, UGA, Athens GA 30602."