OAKWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – The songs of the cicadas are only going to become louder in the Miami Valley.
Wright State University professor of biology, Don Cipollini said only the male cicada makes all the noise using a white organ behind the wing called the tymbal.
“Much of the body of the insect of the male is hollow,” Cipollini said. “Other than the muscles that control the flexing of that organ, which is what generates the sound.”
It’s a love song used to attract the female cicada.
“They’re all about mating and reproducing,” Cipollini said. “So they take a few days to warm up, to mature, start to sing and fly, and then they start mating and they start to lay eggs.”
The songs are already heard throughout many neighborhoods in the Dayton area.
“Cicadas have been coming out for about a week and they tend to be coming out in neighborhoods with large trees that have been there for at least 17 years or more,” Cipollini said. “Where there’s been an opportunity for it to warm up a little quicker than say in heavily wooded areas or forests or natural areas.”
The nymphs that spent nearly 17 years under ground are only just beginning to emerge.
“We’re not near the peak at all yet,” Cipollini said. “It’s difficult to put an exact number on it.”
Cipollini said Brood X is made up of three species.
“The one I’ve been seeing in the Dayton region so far,” Cipollini said, “is one called Magicicada Cassini. It’s a dwarf cicada relative to the other two.”
Cipollini said they are all black with red eyes, but the other two have an orange color on their abdomen. Each species also has a distinct sound.
“The biggest, and what I think will be the most recognizable one has yet to emerge in a large way,” Cipollini said. “It is one we call the Pharaoh cicadas because their call sounds like they’re saying pharaoh. The one we are seeing now does not have that kind of call. It has kind of a mixture of clicks and buzzes.”
As more cicadas emerge the noise will only become louder.
“We still have several weeks to go. I would say by mid June you will start to notice the chorus declining and disappearing as the males die,” Cipollini said.
Cipollini said the females will live a little longer so they can lay their eggs. The egg laying organ is called an ovipositor. They use this organ to insert the eggs into the branches of trees.
“That does leave behind some scars and can cause some minor branch dieback on trees but it’s a very little long term consequence for most trees,” Cipollini said.
Over the next month, the edges of tree limbs may turn brown and even fall off the tree. The eggs will hatch and the new cicadas will begin to borrow underground for another 17 years.