If you have been hearing a mysterious howling noise from the woods around our area, you may have wondered what caused this strange din. Most likely it emanates from a most unlikely creature — the cicada. There are over 2500 different species of varying colors and behaviour patterns. The one you are likely hearing now, if you live near Augusta, Georgia is a 13 year cicada. Cicadas live as nymphs for quite some time but their adult life is comparitively short, usually about three weeks. Once every 13 years the nymphs crawl out of the ground where they have been feeding on roots and up onto leaves or the bark of trees. There they quickly molt into an adult cicada. The adults live only about 3 weeks but this is still enough time to mate and lay eggs. The shell you see lifeless hanging on tree bark or leaves is the remnant of the cicada nymph and the slice along its back is the exit point for the adult.
The cicadas are harmless to human and are even eaten in some societies. They are also prey to many other species. The 13 year cicadas are different than the more common perennial cicadas. The perennial cicadas also have a 13 year life span but there are some present every year. They can be distinguised by their green bodies and their appearance in July and August rather than in April and May.