Are cicadas invading East Texas? - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Are cicadas invading East Texas?

A molting cicada and friend. Photo by Jamey Boyum KLTV A molting cicada and friend. Photo by Jamey Boyum KLTV

They are big, noisy, ugly, and seem to be everywhere, but they’re not dangerous.

We’re talking about cicadas, and many East Texas residents have seen an increase in the bugs this year.

We had to ask:  “Is this an invasion?”

Gregg County AgriLife Extension’s Randy Reeves says no, we’re not being invaded, and it’s not some kind of plague.

“Some years we may have more than others, and this year may be one of them. You know we hadn’t had a cold winter, in my opinion in years,” Reeves said.

And, according to an article on the Scientific American website, the heat may make them mature more quickly. Beverly Roberts of Tyler says she’s seen more.

“I really have, at least a dozen. I own about three acres of land,” Roberts said.

She says she’s seen the husks they leave behind.

“You’re going to see their skeletons if you want to call it that, on the side of houses, trees, lawn furniture, whatever. You’ll even see them on the ground, and that’s just a normal occurrence. You’ll see it every year,” Reeves pointed out.

Reeves says they spend as much as 17 years in the ground feeding on tree roots and then finally dig their way out, and crawl up on something to molt at night.

“They don’t cause any damage. They don’t feed on anything, but birds love them because they are so clumsy and slow flying compared to other insects,” Reeves explained.

After molting they head for the trees where their soft bodies harden.

“I’m assuming you’ve heard the singing of the cicadas,” Reeves said to me.

“Sound like power lines to me,” I observed.

“Yeah, it’s just..I call it the sound of summer here in Texas. That’s what it is,” Reeves smiled.

So some years there are just more than others. They hide out until they’re teenagers, then break free and make a bunch of noise. I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising.

They only live a few weeks in their winged form and males make a big buzz attracting a mate. Eggs are laid and hatch and the nymphs burrow in the ground and start it all over again.

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