2021 cicadas emerge in Columbus in April, peak mid June

Local News

“In Mid June, pardon my French, all Hell is going to break loose,” Prof. David Shetlar, Professor Emeritus of Entomology at The Ohio State University said, “and they’re going to come out by the millions.”

After 17 years of hibernation, Brood X of the periodical cicadas will be coming to the surface and taking over parts of Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Eastern Indiana, including here in Columbus.

Right now there are no signs of emergence, but later in April, we will start to see the mounding of soil in spots where the Brood X are getting ready to emerge. And once they do, they’ll be hard to ignore due to not only their sound and size.

“We have about 25 broods of these periodical cicadas,” Shetlar said. “It just so happens that this brood X is one of the larger broods.”

While they may not be the largest of the cicada broods, they are a notable 2.5″ length with a 3″ wingspan, which can be a startling size compared to most insects.

“As an analogist, I just chuckle when people freak out about these things,” Shetlar said.

Instead, he recommends that you take advantage of this piece of history. He said, “Enjoy it! It’s only going to last about a month and a half, and then they’re going to be gone for another 17 years!”

While many Central Ohio residents are not fans of being kept up all night by the symphony of cicadas, other parts of the world look at this emergence as good luck.

“Other countries don’t have the Periodic Cicadas that we have, they have annual cicadas, ones that come out every year,”  “Those periodical cicadas are an unusual event.” 

One way that areas can take advantage of the emerging cicada population is by turning them into a snack. While many people in Ohio might not look at cicadas as something to eat, Shetlar has some tips for anyone feeling more adventurous:

“I’ve eaten cicadas.  We have record that the native Indians relish emergences.   And here’s the key: If you can get them right after they emerge out of the exoskeleton, they haven’t hardened the exoskeleton.  So what you do is you go out at nighttime when they’re emerging, the nymphs are shedding their exoskeleton to convert into the adult.  As soon as they emerge out of that, they are white.  They haven’t got the pigment they’re still soft and tinder.  It’d be the of a soft shell crab and you can actually pan fry them up then with a little batter and enjoy them without the crunch. Now, if you wait until they harden their exoskeleton, they’re going to be crunchy.” 

If you’re interested in finding out more about this 17 year event, visit cicadamania.com.

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