NOTE: This story was originally posted in March 2011. Click here for additional information about cicadas in Middle Tennessee.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It has been more than a decade since Middle Tennessee has dealt with swarms of cicadas.
The last time the 13-year periodical cicada emerged from the ground was in May of 1998.
Come May of this year, most of Middle Tennessee will again see the cicadas, according to Dr. Frank Hale, entomologist at the University of Tennessee Extension.
He said the periodical cicada that will emerge this year is known as Brood XIX.
Various populations are called broods and scientists use Roman numerals to designate which brood they are referring to.
Brood XIX is expected to emerge from the ground in May “and they will come out by the millions,” according to Dr. Hale.
He added, “Brood XIX is the biggest brood that we have in Middle Tennessee. It is encompassing most of Middle Tennessee, even some counties in east Tennessee and probably a few west of here.”
The cicadas will start appearing in early May and live for about five to six weeks.
Most Middle Tennesseans remember the cicadas in 1998.
“They were everywhere. You couldn’t walk outside without getting hit in the head with them and they were big,” Zora Mallory recalled. “I am not scared of bugs but I don’t like bugs and I would rather they not be around me. You would walk outside and they would crunch under your feet.”
“I just remember all the noise,” Anita Jean-Pierre Anita Jean-Pierre. “Very noisy and they also freak me out.”
“They were just every where,” Ray Farris added. “[They] covered your windows, covered your cars, dogs and cats chasing them and hiding from them. It is just a nightmare for some people and then we aren’t used to it down here in the south.”
Cicadas are completely harmless but they are very loud and the noise could affect outdoor events in May like picnics or weddings.
The female cicadas can also cause damage to young trees when laying eggs.
Females prefer branches about the size of a pencil.
They cut into the underside of the branch and lay their eggs.
Dr. Hale recommends covering young fruit and ornamental trees with a thin cloth to keep the cicadas away from the branches.