Spring is a time to explore and learn about many kinds of insects as they emerge from their overwintering states and habitats. Cicadas are an interesting group of insects for multiple reasons. They are prehistoric-looking insects and spend the majority of their lives underground feeding on plant roots, especially trees and shrubs. This occurs in their immature or nymphal stage.
The adult stage then can emerge in mass in the spring. Adults typically live only two to four weeks. The males have a unique ability to create a mating song using tymbals, a sound-producing organ located on the side of their abdomen or their main body section. The buckling and popping back of the tymbals, kind of like a drum top, creates unique and loud buzzing and clicking sounds.
Some cicadas are periodical in their mass emergence. Most of these periodical cicadas emerge at 13 or 17-year intervals. These mass emergencies can be spectacular. Brood X, called the Great Eastern Brood, is emerging now from Pennsylvania to Georgia, and over to Wisconsin down to Mississippi.
However, most of the cicada species in Utah emerge after only one to several years in the ground. We don't have the periodical cicadas here. Some years in Utah, we see more than in other years.
So, look for cicadas on the native maple trees along the foothills and enjoy their interesting buzzing and clicking sounds.