Think that you’re free of cicadas until 2017? Think again. Several thousand of the red-eyed insects have emerged in Mount Healthy, said resident cicada guru Gene Kritsky, the College of Mount St. Joseph biology professor. As the temperature climbs into the upper 80s this week, he expects that there could be outbreaks in areas such as Anderson Township, Greenhills and Hyde Park.
Traditionally, cicadas only emerge from their subterranean slumber every 17 years, creating stories that have become part of the region’s lore.
But warmer springs have caused some “off cycle” cicadas to emerge about four years early.
Already this spring, the insects have been sighted along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Connecticut, Kritsky said. And now they’re extending into the Ohio valley.
The larger trend indicates that cicadas are likely to be emerging far more often than every 17 years, as the smaller outbreaks multiply.
“What we’re seeing is evolution in our backyard,” Kritsky said. “This may be how cicada broods have actually evolved.”
The cicadas do not carry disease and do not sting or bite humans. But their overflowing presence, particularly in mature wooded areas, and the noise from mating songs mean they dominate areas of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky whenever they appear in force.
This latest sighting is the the early version of a brood that laid its eggs in 2000.
The biggest recent invasion came in 2004, when up to 7 billion cicadas swarmed mostly to the west of Interstate 71. Another brood emerged in 2008.
This newest outbreak will determine whether a third brood is active in this region.
Kritsky said this emergence won’t approach the scale of 2004.
“This may be just a blip,” he said.
Kritsky asks that those observing cicadas report their observations at www.msj.edu/cicada.