You may hear a humming sound when near woods this spring and early summer. What is often called locusts locally are actually cicadas and there are a variety of them. Some come out of the ground and transform into adults every year, other groups emerge every five, seven, 13 and 17 years.
The most talked about are the “17-year locusts,” a big group that comes out every 17 years in huge numbers and are named “Brood IX.” This year as many as 1.5 million adults may emerge per acre in some areas.
Female Cicadas lay their eggs on woody parts of trees and bushes. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs go into the ground and grow, eating plant roots. They grow for the years for their species, emerge from the ground, then climb up a tree or bush a few feet and come out of their shell, developing wings.
Males “sing” by rubbing membranes on their body making the sound we hear that attracts females. After they mate, the cycle starts over.
My grandfather died when I was six years old, but I vaguely remember his small farm. A tiny field was surrounded by pine trees, and whenever I visited, I would go out there and find Cicada husks clinging to the bark and collect them. Sometimes I found a one or two, other times dozens.
I have found the husks around Griffin, too. At the hunting club and on my land, if I look carefully, I can find them. The light brown husks are hard to see on the bark but they do stick out a little to help spot them.
A few years ago I was fishing Lake Sinclair and we could hear the Cicadas singing in the woods. The surface of the water was covered with dead bugs. Their bodies were reddish brown and were everywhere.
After fishing about three hours without a bite, I finally decided to “match the hatch” and tied on a red worm. I immediately started catching bass. The bass were feeding on the dead Cicadas that had died in the water and fell to the bottom and were so focused on that food source any other color did not attract them.
Carp are usually hard to catch on artificial bait, but during the Cicada hatch they come to the top and eat floating bugs. You can tie a fly that looks like the dead Cicada and catch them on a fly rod, about the only time you can do that.
This year the reason there are so many Cicadas is the 13 and 17 Cicadas cycles are matching, so both groups are coming out at the same time.
Listen for the humming sound and know that is just one of amazing parts of nature’s life cycle.