Periodical Cicada (Magicicada septendecim)

The full onslaught isn’t expected until 2024, but don’t be surprised when a notable number of bugs pop out a year early. Maybe their cicadian rhythms are off?

It’s not uncommon for straggler cicadas to emerge in off years, hurling their banshee shrieks into the summer nights until they’re gobbled up by hungry birds. But this year’s early arrivals have the special honor of serving as amuse-bouches for what will be an epic bird feast in parts of Arkansas next year.


Squads of periodical cicadas can be counted on to emerge in either 13-year or 17-year cycles. Arkansas has only 13-year varieties, but two separate broods of them, Dr. Victor Ford with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service said. Cicadas are grouped into broods by geography and their timelines for emergence, he said.

In 2024, Brood XIX, the Great Southern Brood, is set to emerge. If you live in the non-Delta portions of Arkansas, expect Great Southern Brood members to be hollering from a tree near you.


Arkansas’s other cicada gang, Brood XXIII, aka the Mississippi Valley Brood, is expected in 2028.

Because Arkansas has only the 13-year variety of cicadas, we’ll miss out on a historic bug explosion in 2024, when the 13- and 17-year cycles will converge in some areas of the United States for the first time since Thomas Jefferson was president. This is a huge deal for cicada scientists, who are already amping up.


Dr. Gene Kritsky is super into cicadas.

Dr. Gene Kritsky, dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, is geeking out so much already that he sent word to begin preparations. He helped develop Cicada Safari, an app that lets citizen scientists submit photos and video to help entomologists map cicada happenings.

“Predators should consider these early cicadas to be hors d’oeuvres compared to the massive emergence expected in 2024,” Dr. Kritsky said of this year’s stragglers.

He shared these fun factoids:

  • Cicadas emerge after the soil temperature exceeds 64 degrees, which is usually in mid May.
  • Only male cicadas sing through sound-producing structures called tymbals on either side of the abdomen under the wings.
  • Cicadas do not eat solid food but do drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Cicadas do not sting or bite, and do not carry diseases.
  • Periodical cicada years are quite beneficial to the ecology of the region. Their egg-laying in trees is a natural pruning that results in increased numbers of flowers and fruits in the succeeding years. Their emergence from the ground turns over large amounts of soil, and after they die their decaying bodies contribute a massive amount of nutrients to the soil.
  • Periodical cicadas are often incorrectly called locusts. Locusts are grasshoppers and cicadas are more closely related to aphids than grasshoppers.

It’s OK to be jealous of Kritsky’s zeal, considering Arkansas won’t get in on the excitement of two broods emerging at once. But we do have something possibly even cooler to look forward to. The path of totality to view the 2024 Great North American Eclipse zips right through Arkansas, and it’s only 332 days away.