Cicadas' Noisy Neighbors Drop In Every Five To Seven Years

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RENO, NV - The hills are alive...literally with the sound of...well, these guys. Meet the cicada.

If you venture out into the Nevada wild lands in the next couple of weeks it's likely you will encounter him or her, but even though they're here in the thousands, it's likely you will hear them first.

Actually they've always been out here, lurking underground where they spend most of their lives, happily chewing on the roots of native plants..

Periodically, as if on cue they emerge, leaving little holes in the ground take wing and in the last act of their lives, sing.

Their cousins back east do this on a 17 year cycle. Our cicadas live life in the fast lane.

"The ones we're seeing now are probably on a five to seven year cycle," says Nevada State Entymologist Jeff Knight of the two local species.

And he says, every now and then, those five and seven year cycles converge and both species emerge together. That's what we're seeing now.

Large swarms of any insect are usually cause for concern, but in the case of the cicada, there's really only one downside.

"The noise," says Knight. "Even my sister-in-law says she's gotten headaches from them."

The good thing is they shut up when it gets dark or the temperature drops. In fact, today a passing cloud quieted them as if someone had flipped a switch.

The noise is like ringing the dinner bell for other creatures out here.
A viewer in Antelope Valley sent us video of seagulls, likely summoned from Pyramid Lake, greedily enjoying the cicada buffet.

For the uninitiated, the sound has been known to have a less welcoming effect.

"When you scare one out of a bush they'll let our a screech or a chatter and you might think it's a rattlesnake."

Singing, by the way, is about all these guys will be doing. They're eating little, if any, intent on attracting a mate and setting up the next generation for the next five or seven year cycle.

In the meantime they pose no danger to man, beast or your garden.

Enjoy or endure the chorus now. Knight says the adults will be gone in a couple of weeks, not to return in numbers like this for another seven to ten years.