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17-Year Periodical Cicadas (2004)

Science Reference Section
Science, Technology, and Business Division
Library of Congress

Photo: 17 Year Periodical Cicada
Image was taken from the
Argonne National Laboratory


    Periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) are different from the more familiar ‘annual’ cicadas that emerge later in the summer. The development of Periodical cicadas is synchronized, while that of ‘annual’ cicadas’ is not. Almost all periodical cicadas grow and mature into adults at the same time, which is why we witness such huge groups of them every 17 or 13 years.

    Specific groups of periodical cicadas are called “Broods.” Entomologists have devised a chart that documents the emergence of these groups. There are twelve “Broods” that appear in the northeastern part of the United States in different years. This year, the lucky area is Brood X. Brood X refers to certain parts of fifteen states (DE, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WVA) and Washington DC. These states will witness the emergence of the 17-year periodical cicadas sometime around May or June of 2004.

   See the map at:



Brood X cicadas will cause limited damage to trees, yard plants across Eastern U.S.
    A news release from Indiana University discusses the effect the cicadas can have on plants, trees, and crops.

How cicadas work
    Learn all about cicadas from this article from the How stuff works Web site.

They’re back! The 17-year cicadas are coming this year
    An article by Charles Metz, which appears on the Master Gardeners Web site; provides a general discussion about the periodical cicadas and information about cicada control.

They’re back !!! Periodical cicadas
    An article from the University of Illinois Extension Green Line Web site gives a short discussion about periodical cicadas in Illinois, as well as other general information about the periodical cicadas.

The otherworldly roar of the cicadas
    An article by Jim Pomeroy, naturalist at the Hidden Pond Nature Center in Northern Virginia, discusses the life of the periodical cicadas.



Published scientific literature on periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.)
    This is a list of general and technical papers about the periodical cicadas published before 2000.



Natrop’s 2004 Periodical Cicadas Brood X fact sheet
    This fact sheet provides a section about cicada control and other information about the 2004 periodical cicada.



Bugbios: Cicada in Chinese Folklore
    An article by Garland Riegel, featured in the November 1994 issue of Cultural Entomology Digest, discusses the use of the cicada in Chinese medicine and the symbolism in Chinese art and artifacts.

Bugbios: Cicada in Ancient Greece
    An article by Rory B. Egan, which appeared in the November 1994 issue of the Cultural Entomology Digest, discusses cicada references in Greek literature and mythology.



Cicada Mania Web log
    This is the perfect site for the cicada enthusiast. There is a message board, frequently asked questions, links to more cicada Web sites, a photo gallery and even merchandise.

Cicada Central
    “This site is designed to be a center for the exchange of scientific information concerning cicadas of the world. “ It includes “photos, songs and information about Australian, New Zealand, and North American cicadas. The North American portion of this site also contains facts about periodical cicadas. In addition, you can find information about cicada-related scientific literature, a list of world cicada tribes, a list of worldwide cicada researchers, and links to other cicada sites. Visit Chris Simon's lab at the University of Connecticut to learn about research and research opportunities.“

Cicadas of the Mid Atlantic
    This Web site "has been created to act as a repository for information regarding annual and periodical cicadas found in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States." If you witness an outbreak of periodical cicadas and you live in the Mid-Atlantic region you can go this Web site and submit your information.



National Agricultural Library: Cicada factsheet
    A fact sheet that contains information on what cicadas eat, how they make noise, and other fascinating cicada facts.



Becoming an Ecologist: Investigation into the Life Cycle of the 17-year Cicada
    “This lab is designed to help students gain experience and develop an understanding of elements of scientific inquiry through the study of an ecological phenomenon. It can be a good way to introduce or conclude an ecology unit.” Guides for teachers and students are included.

Cicada Watch: 2004: Teaching Resources
    Includes ideas for lesson plans such as conducting an oral history, researching old newspapers, studying nymphal tunnels, and folding an origami cicada.



    Many universities in states across the country sponsor Web sites about the periodical cicadas. These Web sites provide general and specific information about the periodical cicadas such as information on the biology and distribution of cicadas throughout the United States. Some universities are conducting a survey of local cicada outbreaks and are seeking the public’s help with documenting these outbreaks. If you are interested in participating in a survey contact the science department at your local university or search the Web for a local survey. The following are examples of university Web sites.

Indiana: Cicada Project from Indiana University
    Included on the Web site is information about the biology of the cicada, the Indiana University Cicada Project, Cicada survey in Indiana, and links to information about cicadas.

Home and Garden Information Center: University of Maryland.
    Presented on this Web site are fact sheets, a photo gallery and links to information about the periodical cicada.

Michigan: University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology, Insect Division. Periodical cicada page
    This Web site provides a description, life cycle, maps, and sounds of the periodical cicada. Also included are a bibliography and additional links.

Ohio: Cicada Watch 2004: The Official Cicada Web site of the College of Mount St. Joseph.
    Cicada Watch 2004 provides a list of frequently asked questions, a cicada calendar, report an emergence survey, cicada events, teaching resources, and a press kit.

Compiled by Jennifer Harbster May, 2004

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