All the Buzzing: Cicadas Came Late this Year

A U of M entomologist wrote a blog post about the insects in response to the questions he'd been getting about their high-pitched "powerline hum" sound.

Cicadaa (Patch file photo)
Cicadaa (Patch file photo)
By Zac Farber

The sound is everywhere: a low, staticky, bzz-bzz drone. 

The mating call of the cicadas is an annual event in Minnesota. Normally, the insects emerge in July, spreading their tell-tale hiss for about two months. 

But this year, Minnesotans were treated to a silent July, the bugs only starting to emigrate from their subterranean lairs into the open air in mid-August.

U of M Extension Entomologist Jeffrey Hahn told CBS Minnesotathat the late spring could be responsible.

“It compresses when they came out, so maybe the actual number is the same, but they might be more compressed into a smaller period of time,” he told the station. “You might be hearing more at a time.”

Another hypothesis of Hahn's is that the insects have been out since July as usual but the cool weather slowed them down.

“It may have been that they were out in July and we didn’t notice them that much,” he said.

In response to all the buzz about cicadas, Hahn penned a blog post about the insects on the U of M's website.

"Only the males produce [the] sound in order to attract females," he wrote. "They produce this hum by vibrating a membrane in an internal air chamber."

Cicadas are only active during the day. Katydids produce a similar sound in the evenings.


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