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Cicada Mania Hits in the Midwest

17-year cicada (Photo credit: Tennessee Farm Bureau)
17-year cicada (Photo credit: Tennessee Farm Bureau)

After living under the earth for nearly two decades, a certain species of insect is starting to emerge across the Midwest. The 17-year cicada will soon be singing its unique song in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas. KPR's J. Schafer reports.


It's a sound most of us haven't heard for 17 years. If you're 17-years-old or younger... you've never heard this noise before.  

     (SFX: 17-year cicadas chirping....)

It's the unique -- some say ANNOYING -- sound of the 17-year cicada. These insects have been living under the ground, sucking on tree sap for most of their lives. But every 17 years -- in late May and early June -- they burrow out of the ground, gathering by the millions in wooded areas... where they sing their mating song. Love it or hate it, these cicadas won't be here very long. And when they're gone, we won't hear this exact cicada song again until the year 2032. Until then, we'll have to make do with the summer sounds of the ANNUAL cicada. Or perhaps the other species of the insect. There's a 3-year, 5-year, 7-year and 13-year version. All odd numbers for one of nature's oddest - and noisiest -- insects. I'm J. Schafer.

J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri.