Periodical Cicadas

Periodical Cicadas Photo Credit: Billy Liar (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Via Flickr.
Learn more about cicadas, particularly the periodical species. Periodical cicadas live in the forests of North America. There are different broods in different regions that come out in different years. In fact, periodical cicadas are unique in their combination of long, prime-numbered life cycles of 13 or 17 years. There are 12 broods of 17-year cicadas and 3 broods of 13-year cicadas. You can find great resources about periodical cicadas at the links on this page.
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  • Changing Cicada

    Changing Cicada

    K-2  |  Interactive
    This lesson provides students with an opportunity to consider the concept of heredity in the context of the periodical cicadas.
  • Cicada Invasion

    Cicada Invasion

    3-5  |  Interactive
    In this lesson, students will consider how periodical cicadas survive well in a particular environment due to the species’ life cycle.
  • Periodical Cicada Survival

    Periodical Cicada Survival

    6-8  |  Interactive
    In this lesson, students explore defense mechanisms involved in predatory/prey relationships.

Science Updates

  • Cicada Cycles

    Cicada Cycles

    6-12  |  Audio
    Cicadas spend years underground and come out once in a blue moon for a frenzy of activity. But certain broods, like the one that emerged in 2004, come out like clockwork every 13 or 17 years. In this Science Update, you'll hear what's so special about these numbers.
  • Cicada Emergence

    Cicada Emergence

    6-12  |  Audio
    Every 13 or 17 years, some parts of the country are on cicada watch. They're waiting for billions of the thumb-sized insects to crawl out of the ground, create an incredible racket with their calls, and then die after successfully mating. One Science Update listener asked how the bugs know when to finally come out.


  • Brood II Is Back

    K-12  |  Video
    Bob Hirshon interviews Dr. Michael Raupp, an entomologist, about the 2013 emergence of the Brood ii 17-year periodical cicadas.
  • Return of the Cicadas

    K-12  |  Video
    This time-lapse video takes a look at the 17-year life cycle of the magicicada.


  • Insects.org


    K-8  |  Website
    This resource provides a great deal of information about the world's most diverse organisms: insects.
  • The Bug Club

    The Bug Club

    3-8  |  Website
    This site, produced by the Amateur Entomologists' Society in the United Kingdom, is a great introduction to insects and entomology, the study of insects.
  • Project Noah App

    Project Noah App

    K-12  |  Interactive
    Project Noah is a global study that encourages nature lovers to document the wildlife they encounter.
  • iNaturalist App

    iNaturalist App

    3-12  |  Interactive
    This app lets you record observations from nature and share them with the iNaturalist online community.

Other Resources

Periodical and "Dog-Day" Cicadas
Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet
Offers a description of these insects and suggestions for controlling the damage they cause.

Periodical Cicada Page
The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
Provides information on the Magicicada species found in North America.

Cicada Mania
A comprehensive site devoted to cicadas from around the world.

Song Recordings and Information on Cicadas and Other Acoustic Insects
Song recordings and information on acoustically signaling insects, especially cicadas of the United States and Canada.

Cicada Central
University of Connecticut
A clearinghouse for scientific information about cicadas.

A comprehensive site devoted to periodical cicadas, including a mapping project. This site also allows you to participate in the Magicicada Mapping Project by submitting observations of nymphal mud tubes, cicada sightings, and calling males.

Kids' Cicada Hunt
Explains different types of cicadas and takes kids along on a hunt for them.

The IAS Cicada Web Site
Indiana Academy of Science and College of Mount St. Joseph
Contains information about periodical cicadas. Also includes assorted facts, a coloring page, and instructions for making an origami cicada.

Cicadas' Bizarre Survival Strategy
Washington Post
A 2004 article about periodical cicada cycles.

Cicada Tracker
This citizen science resource is sponsored by Radiolab and it provides a map of the Brood II emergence, a graphic that provides some information about the periodical cicadas, and directions on how to make a temperature sensor that you can set in the ground to track the ground temperature. You can then report your findings back to Radiolab.

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