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17 Year Cicadas in Kansas: A Summer to Remember

17 year cicadas come to kansasIt all started with a familiar summer sound… the buzz. It was coming from the trees as it does every year. The sound of cicadas marks the beginning of summer in these parts. However, this year was different. The buzz got louder. The mating call shriek became overwhelming. There were cicadas flying everywhere, bumping and crashing into everything. We have 17 year cicadas.

It’s kind of interesting to think we’ve lived in this house for 15 years. My kiddo is now 9. We’ve been married for 12 years. And the last time the 17 year cicadas were here at our home… none of that had happened yet.

17 year cicadas are a little different than normal cicadas. They have a 17 year life cycle, but most of it is spent under ground. They only emerge every 17 years to mate. They come out of the ground, climb trees, start shrieking to attract a mate. They mate, lay eggs in the tree branches and die. The eggs hatch, crawl to the end of the branch they were born on and drop to the ground. They then burrow into the ground to begin the cycle again.

Hanna will be 26 the next these cicadas emerge from the ground.

It sounds all fine and good when put like that… but OMG these cicadas are driving me crazy. I have a “thing” about flying bugs. I hate them. I see something fly towards me, whether it’s a fly, a June Bug, a moth… and now cicadas, and I just kind of freak out. I try to control it, but I just can’t. (It makes me think I may have had a past life death with some sort of flying critter.) They are incredibly LOUD. One single male cicada can create a noise over 100 decibels. Now put together THOUSANDS of them, and you can almost begin to imagine what it sounds like around here.

Once I got past the freak out phase it was actually kind of interesting to do some research with Hanna to learn more about them. I’ve found it incredibly interesting how brave she is. She now picks them up by the wings, just like a butterfly. She saves them in her ladybug house, and feeds them to the outside cats like they’re treats. Her fearlessness really astounds me sometimes. 🙂

We found this really interesting video yesterday about the 17 year cicadas. The film maker is creating a 1 hour long documentary about them, he’s got a kickstarter fund going if you feel the urge to support his film. The thing I was surprised about after watching this short film was how sympathetic is makes the cicadas. 🙂 (kind of… almost… not really while I’m living with them). Anyway, it’s a really interesting, and well done video.

So… we’re winding down our few weeks of 17 year cicadas here in Kansas. There are still cicadas flying everywhere, but more and more we’re seeing dead ones in the yard. The pool has more and more cicadas in it every morning. Soon, the shrieking will be gone, and I imagine 17 years from now when it happens again, we’ll have completely forgotten what it was like this time around.

Do you have 17 year cicadas in your area? I’d love to know where you are, and your experience with them… share in the comments. 🙂

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