Red-Eyed Cicadas Appear In Oklahoma For First Time In Almost 20 Years

Thursday, June 4th 2015, 8:41 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma is getting much louder thanks to returning red-eyed cicadas. 

"I made a loop through Stillwater to Pawnee to Shidler to Ponca City and back and they were everywhere," said Dr. Richard Grantham, entomologist and Plant Disease & Insect Diagnostic Lab Director at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater

Cicadas are no stranger to Oklahoma in the summer, but certain species only appear every now and then.

Dr. Grantham says these cicadas are Brood IV (also known as the Kansas Brood) of the 17-year periodical cicada. This insect, which is part of a group of two or three species in the genus Magicicada, is one of our longest-lived insects. 

"They spend 16 years underground and emerge for about 2-3 weeks to mate, lay eggs, and die!" he said.

Brood IV is one of 16 broods of periodical cicadas that live in the U.S. Oklahoma hosts three broods: Brood II, Brood IV -- which are 17-year species -- and Brood XIX, which is a 13-year brood, according to Dr. Grantham. 

Dr. Grantham says they all look very similar, with bright orange-red eyes with a black body and orange-veined clear wings. He says they're much smaller than the typical greenish “dog-day” cicadas we see every year.

He issued an alert on Thursday about them:

"Their behavior is quite unique. They have a very precisely timed emergence (within 5 days of each other), and emerge in huge numbers and tend to aggregate in patches of trees. Once they emerge, they make an ear-splitting cacophony of pulsing buzzing sounds during the day. They insert their eggs on tree branches, which results in some slight physical injury to the branch. This can result in “flagging” of small branches that turn brown and die. This injury does not seem to hurt older trees, but it might be a good idea to delay transplanting young trees until these cicadas die off (in about 2-3 weeks after emergence)."

OSU entomologists have collected Brood IV cicadas from the following counties: Bryan, Carter, Choctaw, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Garvin, Grady, Lawton, Mayes, McCurtain, Muskogee, Noble, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Rogers, Stephens, Tulsa, and Washington. 

They want to know if they are singing in your county this year. 

The easiest way to determine their presence is to go out during the day and listen. 

You can hear a sample of their call here.

If you hear them in your area, you can report it by emailing Dr. Grantham at