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Prepare for the descent of the winged red-eyed monsters
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In the coming weeks, much of Hall County will be invaded by a rare sight; six legged, winged creatures with red eyes. These creatures are not from a far off land or a distant planet, but they are a normal occurrence for our part of the country. Georgia’s only 13-year cicada will emerge from the ground.

The 13-year cicada is part of a group of cicadas called periodical cicadas. They spend the 13 years in the ground eating on plant roots developing into adults.

Like a synchronized drill team, the entire brood will emerge from the ground, take to various plants and reproduce to start the cycle all over again.

The female cicada will cut into twigs to deposit her eggs in the trees and shrubs.

They differ from annual cicadas in appearance. Periodical cicadas have red eyes as opposed to black eyes of their annual cousins, and they have striking orange veins in their wings.

The emergence will be the strongest in wooded areas or in areas that have not seen much land use changes.

But some areas that have not changed may not see much on an emergence if predators or disease have not taken their toll on the local population.

The good news is that this insect is harmless to people. They may accidently fly up and hit you as they are moving about, but they do not bite or sting. The only damage that might occur would be on trees or shrubs.

That would only be the case if too many cicadas feed and lay eggs on the plant, then the twigs could break.

The use of insecticides is not needed because the damage is occurring so early in the growing season; the plant has time to recover from the damage.

So keep an eye out from this strange creature this spring and enjoy a rare sight to see.

The next time this periodical cicada will emerge will be 2024.

Michael Wheeler is the Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994. Email
wheelerm@uga.edu.

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