Rare Emergence of 13-year and 17-year Cicadas in Oklahoma This Spring

KOKH - April 2, 2024 5:49 am

A rare emergence of both 13-year and 17-year periodical cicadas are coming to Oklahoma in late April/May.

Oklahomans are used to annual cicadas coming out in late summer, but this year experts say two different breeds of cicadas are expected to appear in late April or May, and it’ll be the first time most of these cicadas have been above ground in 17 years.

Entomology Professor, Wyatt Hoback, at Oklahoma State University says hundreds of thousands of cicadas are expected to break through the soil and appear above ground to mate in the next few months in the eastern part of the state.

“Nationally, it’s a really rare event,” Hoback said, “This year, two different breeds of cicadas, a 13-year and a 17-year cicada are both going to come out at the same time.”

Many recognize the Cicada song as the sound of summer, the male bugs make a loud buzzing sound to attract mates, and this year some areas of Oklahoma will hear the buzz a few months earlier than normal.

“They have spent 17 years, they all come out at once and all the males are trying to get attention, so they’re all singing at one time,” said Hoback, “In the summer, August you notice a couple of cicadas calling and in this case, we’ll have hundreds of thousands of cicadas calling so it’s it’s really loud during the daytime.”

Though Cicadas are noisy and can appear daunting, experts say they aren’t anything to fear.

“It’ll just be loud when they come out, you’ll have a lot of insects that are about an inch long with bright orange eyes flying around, but they don’t bite humans,” Hoback said, “They can’t cause any problems at all.”

Although these Cicadas are making their first appearance above ground in nearly 20 years, they aren’t expected to live long.

“All these cicadas that come out as adults will only live a couple of weeks and when they die their bodies will be on the ground and that will fertilize the trees and kind of actually return nutrients back to the soil,” said Hoback.

Experts say these cicadas will not appear above ground again until 2041, so they encourage Oklahomans to get out and appreciate them while they’re here.



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