Reports indicate cicadas are beginning to emerge

As soil temperatures rise, the swarm will increase
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | 5:58 p.m. CDT; updated 9:14 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 11, 2011

COLUMBIA – Bruce Barrett has seen isolated reports online of cicadas beginning to emerge in the Columbia area, but he's yet to see any of the insects himself and has been unable to verify the reports.  

Barrett, a MU professor of entomology, said he wouldn't be surprised if cicadas start emerging soon, considering recent warm weather and soil temperatures., a website created by the University of Connecticut's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, cites reports of cicadas emerging in east Columbia. The website allows people to indicate when they see the insects and to view of a map of emergences in several states. The Great Southern Brood, also known as Brood 19, has begun to show up in Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, according to the map. The brood emerges every 13 years.

Usually, cicadas emerge from the ground when the soil reaches about 65 degrees.

At MU's Sanborn Field, bare soil temperatures four inches below the surface on Tuesday ranged from a low of 66.5 degrees to a high of 78.6 degrees. By 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the 4-inch soil temperature had reached 85.2 degrees; at two inches below, the temperature was 90.4 degrees.

Rob Lawrence, a forest entomology professor at MU, said that once cicadas are seen on trees, it might be two weeks before they become extremely noisy. It will take time, he said, for a large population to emerge. 

“As long as it stays warm we are gonna start hearing them, but if it gets cooler we won't hear much of them,” Barrett said.

The singing will intensify as the temperature rises and peak in the early afternoons, when temperatures are warmest.

Gene Kristky, editor-in-chief of American Entomologist in Ohio, has also seen the reports. He said it's possible that two or three individual cicadas have already emerged in different areas.

"Columbia will have the cicadas before the beginning of June," Kritsky said. "But it is not gonna happen in one day."

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