It is Cicada time and though we do not hear a lot of the buzz in Milwaukee, other areas of south Wisconsin have been serenaded.
They require a specific environment and therefore might not be seen in the Milwaukee area. When they emerge, they shed their skin and several of these have been found throughout the county. They can emerge from late July to mid-September depending on the environment.
Misnamed the Seventeen Year Locust, these insects are more closely related to aphids and leafhoppers. Harmless, they fly around looking for mates and eating the tree sap. The adults live only a few weeks
Their characteristic loud buzz is produced from organs at the base of their abdomen. Males only cause this call to find females. .
After mating, the female makes a slit in the twig of a tree and deposits her egg cluster. Once the eggs hatch into what is called the “nymph” stage, it drops to the ground and burrows into the tree root. They suck the nutrients from the tree root liquids. They do not emerge for seventeen years.
These hoards of insects provide a rare treat for gulls and terns, large spiders and a wasp known as “Cicada Killer.”
Those Milwaukeeans who want to experience the true season of the Cicada can drive down to northern Illinois where they enjoy their ideal habitat.