First cicadas of 2024 in Mississippi documented this week

Published 6:35 am Sunday, April 28, 2024

The first documented cicada in Mississippi for 2024 was spotted this week.

According to Mississippi State Extension Service officials, the inaugural sighting of these attention-grabbing insects was witnessed in Choctaw County.

Dr. Blake Layton, an Entomologist from the Mississippi State University Extension, provided insights into the phenomenon on social media.

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In the Southern United States, there are three broods of 13-year cicadas, each with its own geographic range and emergence schedule. This spring, the thirteen-year cicada Brood XIX, also known as the Great Southern brood, will emerge across parts of 15 states, including at least 17 counties in Mississippi.

Mississippi stands out as the sole state hosting all three broods of 13-year periodic cicadas, traditionally numbered with Roman numerals. Brood XIX will emerge this year, followed by Brood XXII in 2027 and Brood XXIII in 2028.

Unlike the 17-year cicadas, which appear farther north, Brood XIII will emerge this year in northern Illinois and nearby states, excluding Mississippi. This distinction alleviates concerns about the simultaneous presence of seventeen-year and thirteen-year cicadas in parts of Mississippi.

Characterized by their striking black and orange appearance with red eyes, and their loud choruses, periodic cicadas gather attention due to their sheer numbers. In habitats like upland hardwoods, hundreds of thousands of cicadas per acre may congregate, with males serenading loudly to attract females.

Despite their alarming appearance, cicadas pose no threat as they are neither venomous nor poisonous. They serve as a vital food source for numerous birds, reptiles, and mammals.

Additionally, Mississippi harbors around 20 species of annual cicadas, distinguishable by their winged form, greenish bodies, and prominent eyes, primarily belonging to the Tibicen genus, each emitting distinct songs.