Return of the 17-year cicadas: DEEP looking for volunteers to survey mass emergence

Everyone is “buzzing” in anticipation of one of the most spectacular events in all of nature that will be unfolding before our eyes (and in our ears) in just a few weeks — the mass emergence of periodical cicadas.

These unique insects live underground for most of their life cycle, but every 17 years their nymphs emerge from the ground and transform into short-lived adults. The synchronous mass emergence, lengthy life cycle, and large male choruses of periodical cicadas have amazed scientists and laypeople for centuries.

The last time periodical cicadas appeared in Connecticut was in May and June 1996. This year, Connecticut’s “Brood II” periodical cicadas will once again appear and be heard, especially in broad-leaved forests associated with traprock ridges in New Haven, Hartford, and Middlesex Counties.

Cicada monitoring and conservation volunteers are needed. Connecticut’s periodical cicada colonies are constantly threatened by loss of habitat due to development. A few colonies seen in1996 may not appear this year because they are covered by pavement or buildings.

Dr. Chris Maier, an entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, has studied the periodical cicada for over three decades. The DEEP Wildlife Division is funding an effort by Dr. Maier to survey cicada populations this year. Dr. Maier is particularly interested in locating populations of cicadas that have not been recorded during the last two emergences (1979 and 1996). If you find a colony in Avon, New Haven, Newington, Rocky Hill, or West Hartford, please contact Dr. Maier, 203-974-8476 or

The DEEP Wildlife Division is also seeking volunteers to help investigate the range of periodical cicadas in Connecticut. Volunteers are needed to visit multiple sites during the day and during good weather, listening for the presence of cicadas, collecting individuals for positive documentation, and collecting GPS coordinates of locations sampled. The study area is the periphery of their established range, primarily north of Meriden and within the Connecticut River Valley. Volunteers will be provided with training in the identification of the cicada and the protocols followed during the emergence. If you would like to be a part of the team to survey during the six-week period, please contact or call the Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods office at 860-675-8130.

As the weather warms, head for the ridges of Central Connecticut for a little cicada magic. A visit to Hubbard Park in Meriden, Ragged Mountain in Southington and Berlin, and Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden will provide the best chance for seeing the cicadas. Rest assured, you will not have any difficulty hearing them.

By early July 2013, the noise will subside. The nymphs of the next generation will hatch from eggs and burrow into the ground by late summer to begin another 17-year cycle. These fascinating insects will not be heard again until 2030.

There is Reason to Fear or Destroy Cicadas. Cicadas do not bite or sting, nor do they damage garden plantings. The average homeowner should have no concerns about potential tree damage caused by the females laying eggs in small twigs. Cicadas should not be destroyed through the use of insecticides.