This week, watch and listen for an annual, audible sign of summer’s end.
Missouri’s annual cicadas include several species, identifiable by the timing and sound of their songs. This group, known as “dog day cicadas,” is associated with two genus names: Tibicen and Neotibicen. Tibicen is Latin for “flute player.”
Our most common species — the scissor grinder cicada — lives in wooded areas along streams and in suburban areas. These cicadas sing mostly in the evening and at dusk in the dog days of July and August.
Adult females lay eggs in twigs. When the eggs hatch, nymphs fall to the ground, burrow into the soil, and suck nutrients from plant roots.
Unlike periodical cicadas, which emerge in synchronicity every 13 and 17 years, annual cicadas live for 3 years or more, but some of them are emerging each summer.
They spend nearly their entire lives underground, only emerging as winged adults for the last week or two of their lives.
Annual cicadas provide an important food source for many species of birds, insects, spiders, and other animals. The incisions that female cicadas make in twigs of trees serves a natural pruning service, and the burrowing of nymphs aerates the soil. Adult cicadas also make fine fishing bait for anglers.
Learn more about Missouri’s annual cicadas with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.