“Swarmegeddon” is not a threat to the Aiken area.
The billions of periodical cicadas that will emerge soon from the earth on the East Coast will appear primarily in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to the website www.magicicada.org.
This huge horde of red-eyed insects is known collectively as Brood II.
“I don't expect any or many cicadas from Brood II to emerge in South Carolina based on all the maps from previous emergencies,” said Dr. Eric Benson, a professor of entomology and extension specialist at Clemson University. “Those maps go down into North Carolina and a little bit up into the Georgia mountains, but they don't go into our state to any appreciable amount. Our last big emergence involved the cicadas from Brood XIX in 2011. The next emergence for that brood will be in 2024.”
Brood VI is scheduled to emerge in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina in 2017.
Periodical cicadas have life cycles of 13 or 17 years. The insects, which are members of the genus Magicicada, are developmentally synchronized in any one location.
They spend most of their time underground, but appear en masse for a short adult stage of a few weeks. The males sing for sex, making loud raspy noises to attract mates.
Brood II cicadas have a 17-year life cycle and so do the members of Brood VI. Brood XIX 's members are 13-year cicadas.
Unusual weather conditions can trigger an off-schedule emergence of periodical cicadas and sometimes a small number of individuals in a brood will appear unexpectedly by mistake.
But even though Brood II won't abound in South Carolina, there still will be plenty of cicadas buzzing in the Aiken area this year, according to Vicky Bertagnolli, a home horticulture extension agent with the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service offices in Aiken and Lexington counties.
“We will see cicadas,' she said, “but (in general) they are going to be the annual ones.”
“They are greenish in color while the periodical cicadas tend to be darker (with a black dorsal thorax) and have wing veins that are orange,” she said.
Annual cicadas have a typical life cycle of two to five years and appear every spring and summer.
“There is a pretty steady population of annual cicadas,” Bertagnolli said.
Cicadas can harm trees, but the problem usually isn't serious.
“They've got piercing, sucking mouthparts, but you're not really going to see a whole lot of damage to your trees from feeding,” Bertagnolli said. “But when there are large numbers of cicadas laying eggs, there can be damage. They are fairly large insects (from nearly an inch to two inches in size as adults) and they've got pretty large ovipositors (egg-laying organs). They'll insert their ovipositors into the bark of trees, leaving little slits. They probably won't kill a tree unless it's a very small tree, but they can kill some twigs.”