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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cicadas

Written by Michelle Kretzer | April 18, 2013

The eastern United States is buzzing about the impending cicada season. There are even websites dedicated to the emergence, such as Cicada Tracker, Magicicada, and Cicada Mania on Facebook. Since the periodical cicadas we will see this summer emerge only once every 17 years, here are a few things you may not remember about them from their last appearance in 1996:

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1. They offer free lawn care. When cicadas burrow, they aerate the soil.

2. Although they use different sounds to relay different messages, cicadas are often humming to attract mates. When you’re listening to that sweet summer sound, think of it as being like a Marvin Gaye song.

3. Periodical cicadas aren’t dangerous to plant life. Seventeen-year cicadas aren’t fans of vegetables or flowers. They prefer to get their leafy greens from trees. During the month that they live, they don’t typically harm trees, but if homeowners are worried, they can encase small trees in pond netting or spun polyolefin. 

4. They respect “quiet hour” laws. Unlike the college kids down the street, cicadas play their music loud only during the day.

5. According to ancient Chinese tradition, cicadas are powerful symbols of rebirth. The fact that they mature underground for 17 years just to enjoy a few weeks of life gives “YOLO” a whole new meaning. This summer, while you’re enjoying the peaceful hum of the cicadas, remember to “LALL”: Live and let live.