Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Cicada Circus is Coming to Town!

Like the circus when we were kids, we await the coming of the cicadas with much anticipation. Whether planning an outdoor graduation party, cutting the grass, composting, or running to our car screaming, the entertainment will be absorbing. We won’t be able to watch all the performances, but they sure will put on a show!

In ring one we have the emergence. In the womb of our living soil for 17 years, these nymphs have laid dormant, feeding the soil when they eat or are eaten. Rising, the tunnels they produce provide natural aeration for our soil, allowing for more moisture absorption and less compaction.

In ring two we’ll witness the climbing, costume changes, mating ruckus, feeding frenzy and more! The tree climbers will shed their nymph shells and will take a few days before their exoskeleton is fully developed. Interested in getting a free protein source? This is the stage you want when they’re white and free of crunchy roughage. To get ideas of how to cook with them check out this NewYork Post article. 

Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/users/barskefranck-6433778/

Those in ring two that reach full maturity have one mission in life, mate. The males are the singers attracting females with song and dance (flight) all awhile both sexes only feed on plant fluids. Is this where the idea of night clubs started? No wonder this Brood is X! The females have one more job before their life’s purpose is over. They need to climb back up a tree and deposit their eggs. Natural pruning won’t harm your trees unless they’re defenseless saplings, so please do protect these.

Finally in ring three, we get to participate by mulch mowing the carcasses into the grass where they’ll return to the soil or rake them up and add them to our compost pile. The cicadas add nutrients back into our soil just as all things that used to be living do. Meanwhile, the newly hatched nymphs will drop to the ground, burrow, and find a nice place to live for the next seventeen years.

Hmmm, singing, dancing drinking, mating and good for the earth… maybe in my next life I will be a cicada! 😊


Guest blogger and cicada enthusiast, Jenny Lohmann


  1. I like to see the sun more than once in 17 years... but it is a pretty amazing niche these cicadas have developed in our ecosystem. Thank you for sharing!

  2. 😁 Thank you for posting this, I wish everyone would take a more positive look at these amazing creatures! They remind me of a wonderful childhood and the sounds of summer! I have a question...I thought protein in our compost bins was discouraged. It's really ok to add these little buggers?Thanks!!

    1. Meat and cheeses are discouraged because of the rotting order they create when decomposing. The protein actually speeds up decomposition. As Oscar Wilde says "Everything in moderation, including moderation."