Cicada nymphs are about one inch long with two prominent front legs with claws that help them dig and climb and four back legs for walking and support. Dog-day cicada adults have brown and green bodies with symmetrical markings, dark eyes and green-veined wings.


As nymphs, cicadas live underground and feed by sucking liquid out of plant roots. As adults, cicadas are more focused on mating than feeding but they will puncture young tree branches and plant stems to stay hydrated.


Cicadas are hunted by many species including fish, snakes, mammals, squirrels, birds, and spiders.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Cicada nymphs will emerge from the ground once the soil has warmed to 65 degrees. Nymphs will crawl onto a nearby tree to shed their exoskeleton. At this point the cicadas will begin their mating ritual, males will “sing” to attract females. Males produce the noise by vibrating a portion of their abdomen.

The males and females will mate and females will cut slits into the branches of young trees and lay their eggs, each female will deposit eggs in multiple sites. The adult cicadas will fall to the ground and die once breeding and egg laying has been completed. In six to 10 weeks, the eggs will hatch, nymphs will fall to the ground and dig into the soil to feed on tree roots. In two to five years, the nymphs will emerge and breed.

Did You Know?

  • Annual cicadas are different than periodical cicadas, which emerge every 13 or 17 years in groups known as “broods.”
  • The green-veined wings and dark eyes are any easy way to distinguish annual cicadas from brood cicadas, which have orange-veined wings and red eyes.
  • There are more than 3,000 species of cicadas.
  • People can eat cicadas but those with a shrimp allergy should use caution because cicadas and shrimp are closely related and those allergic to shrimp might also be allergic to cicadas.
  • The namesake of “dog-day” is believed to reference Sirius, the brightest star in the sky known as the “dog star,” which can be seen in the morning sky at the same time of year that the cicadas are projecting their mating call.

Sources and Additional Information

Cicadas - University of Maryland Extension
Cicadas: The dormant army beneath your feet - Ted-ed
Cicadas - U.S. EPA