Cicadas emerge in southern Utah

Posted at 10:29 PM, Jul 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-18 00:29:44-04

ST. GEORGE – There’s a buzz going around St. George this summer. It doesn’t have anything to do with celebrities or the latest tech gear, it’s all about bugs.

The low-pitched buzzing sound can be heard almost anywhere in St. George. It’s a periodic phenomenon, caused by cicadas.

“They’re like my favorite bug,” said Wade Beatty, president of Western Pest Control. “We deal with a lot in the pest control industry, but the cicadas are a periodical bug. You don’t get them very often.”

Beatty said they get a lot of calls when the cicadas come out, but there’s not much that can be done. Their mating call is considered one of the loudest noises in nature. They’re typically found in the Eastern U.S., but certain species have found their way to southern Utah.

“There’s actually about 12 broods that come out at different times,” Beatty said. “This is brood II, which is mostly in Maryland and New York and New Jersey.”

Each brood lives out a life cycle lasting about six weeks. Nymphs emerge from the ground in late spring and make their way up into the trees. By mid-summer, the cicadas have hatched and are making their mating call. Once the eggs are laid in the branches of the tree, they die. The larvae emerge and drop to the ground where they burrow and wait for 17 years to do it all again.

“I used to notice it when I was a kid,” said St. George resident Jodi March. “Now I just tune it out.”

Beatty said that’s about all you can do. The insects don’t sting or bite, they just come out and make a lot of noise.

But while it’s annoying to some, to others, it’s soothing.

“I can imagine that some people would find them annoying if they weren’t familiar with what they were or they didn’t have some kind of emotional attachment to them,” said Salt Lake City resident Katie Gause. “But I like them.”

The current brood is almost done with their mating season. The next generation will then hibernate until 2030. Beatty said there’s another brood, brood X, that is scheduled to re-emerge next year.