Has anyone else noticed that things in Oklahoma are a little louder these days? Periodical cicadas are out and singing across eastern Oklahoma and this year is special because the Red-Eyed Cicadas have appeared. Recognized by their bright orange-red eyes, black body, and orange-veined clear wings, they’ve emerged in record numbers this summer and are louder then ever. You wouldn’t believe it by their size though because they’re actually much smaller then the typical greenish cicadas that we see every year. Oklahoma is home to 32 species of cicada, large and small, but only three species are periodic (appearing every 13 or 17 years). Each species makes its own sound, the chorus of which has been known to reach 90 decibels. That’s as loud as a lawnmower!
The Red-Eyed Cicada, part of a group of two or three species in the genus Magicicada, is one of the longest-living insects. This particular species of cicada are known as the Kansan Brood and have lived underground for the last 17 years. They were due to emerge in mid to late May this year but the heavy rains and flooding across our area may have delayed their activity. Large concentrations of the Red-Eyed Cicadas were reported in Bartlesville during the first week of June. Entomologists believe that they emerge in huge numbers in a survival strategy intended to overwhelm their predators. There are so many that predators are never able to eat them all and the survivors are left to mate and lay eggs for the next 17 year generation.
Sadly, the Red-Eyed Cicadas are nearly gone from our region by now and won’t return for almost two decades. After they emerge as adults, they mate, lay eggs, and then die in the span of only two to four weeks. Hopefully you were lucky enough to see these rare insects or to at least hear their frenzied droning as they looked for a mate and hopefully they didn’t wreak too much havoc on your property.