Cicada Happening in HoCo

Once every 17 years, Howard County becomes an epicenter for the Periodical Cicadas Brood X. In late spring 2004, Brood X of 17-year periodical cicadas emerged in the northeast United States. This is the largest of all broods in existence. And now in 2021, billions of Cicada will emerge from underground, climb into the trees, and transform into brilliantly colored insects.

Many local businesses are celebrating the return of the Cicada. Sweet Cascades Chocolatier will be serving up Berry-cada and Choco-cada, strawberry or crispy rice filled chocolate cicadas (no actual cicada used in recipe). EC Pops has a bevy of Cicada merch available at their store in Historic Ellicott City. The Howard County Conservancy will be hosting Wild Walk : Cicadas!, a informational cicada themed guided tour of the Mt.Pleasant farmstead, as well as this Cicada Scavenger Hunt, which can be completed at the Conservancy or anywhere around HoCo. 


Cicadas are in the suborder Homoptera, and have sucking mouthparts (like little soda straws). Cicadas feed mostly as nymphs underground, on tree roots. They are in the same family as the familiar annual and dog-day cicadas whose songs characterize hot summer days! Other close relatives are aphids, leafhoppers and mealybugs. 

When will they appear?

Brood X will emerge as expected in 2021. Individual cicadas live only a few weeks, just long enough to produce a new generation. The nymphs will begin to emerge when soil temperatures hit 64 degrees a few inches below ground. This will usually happen towards the end of April or early June. After that, over the next 4-6 weeks, the cicada will complete their life cycle.  

Fear not, as Cicada are not a dangerous bug. While the shear number of cicadas that can swarm can be quite intimidating, cicada are not biting insects and will not harm humans. They do have very poor eye sight however, and will fly into you, get scared, and latch on.


information provided by Maryland Dept. of Agriculture