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Every Dog-Day Cicada Has Its Day

The infamous Brood X of cicadas that emerge every 17 years won’t be popping out of the ground until 2021. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t see any cicadas in the meantime. The Dog-day cicada is a common sight in Maryland, especially during the late summer months.

Dog-Day Cicada 101

As you might be able to guess from the name, which references the “dog days” of late summer when the climate is hot and humid, these cicadas emerge near the end of the summer. Adult Dog-day cicadas have black, green, or deep olive bodies with black eyes and 4 wings. These cicadas can crawl or fly but cannot jump like other types of cicadas. When contrasted with Brood X cicadas, Dog-day cicadas are bigger in size. Adult males emit a loud, raspy sound to attract mates.

Where Are Dog-Day Cicadas Found?

Dog-day cicadas are commonly found in forests and densely wooded areas, including parks. The eggs are laid in tree twigs, and cicada nymphs use tree roots for food. Once cicadas mature, plants become the primary food source. Dog-day cicadas can only live a few weeks above ground.

What Role Do Cicadas Play?

To humans, cicadas seem like annoying and odd-looking pests that emerge every few years to cover cars and plants. In the ecosystem, cicadas serve as a delicious feast for birds, insects, spiders and other animals. The incisions in twigs created by female cicadas to lay eggs often break off the twigs, which naturally prunes the trees. Thanks to the nymphs burrowing deep in the soil, the forest’s dirt is naturally aerated.

The Downside of Dog-Day Cicadas

While cicadas play a valuable role in the ecosystem, that doesn’t come without things that homeowners might deem annoying, including:

  • Damage to the exterior of trees that do not need pruning
  • Shed skins in garden beds or around the lawn
  • Exit holes in the lawn
  • Exit chimneys of dirt from the ground that might be as high as 2-3 inches

That being said, cicadas leave no lasting damage to your yard, and you should not be alarmed!