You may have heard about the swarm of periodical cicadas that are emerging along the east coast. But most of Georgia won’t see the phenomenon, which happens every 17 years.
Dr. Nancy Hinkle is an entomology professor at the University of Georgia. She says the buzzing has started in a few parts of the state. “I have confirmed that cicadas are showing up in Unicoi State Park. And they are numerous and the sound is quite impressive. There are also localized populations around Cleveland and Helen." She says " This will not be a widespread emergence. The cicadas are found only in the very northern tier counties in the very northeastern corner of the state of Georgia.”
Hinkle says the bugs spend most of their lives underground, sucking root fluids for food. She says cicadas aren’t harmful to humans. They don’t bite or sting . And Hinkle says they don't hurt the trees. “They do lay their eggs in the very tips of twigs on trees. And this sometimes causes the tips of the limbs to die. But this is a good thing because that’s a natural pruning service. It prevents the trees from being afflicted by ice and snow in the winter and preserves them so that the huge limbs don’t come crashing down.”
Hinkle says periodical cicadas are different from annual cicadas. This brood only emerges every 17 years when they emerge from underground to mate. Annual cicadas are larger and have green bodies. Periodical cicadas have black bodies and red eyes.
The emergence will last for about 6 weeks.
UGA entomologists are asking Georgians to collect any intact cicada bodies they find on the ground and send them to the university’s museum of natural history. The museum doesn't currently have any specimens from this brood.