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Back and bigger than ever: New cicadas that ‘like to scream’ are here in Maryland

A Dog Day Cicada (some call them swamp cicadas and early morning cicadas, also known as Tibicen Tibicen) clings to its nymph shell on a tree, waiting to dry after emerging from its nymph state in the midnight hours in West Baltimore Saturday, Aug 24, 2013. Many people mistake these annual cicadas with the periodical or brood cicadas, which emerge every 13, or 17 years. This cicada has green eyes and the emergence is annual (even though these take up to five years to reach maturity) while the periodic broods have been seen with red eyes (according to http://static.ideastations.org/Cicada-Differences.pdf.
A Dog Day Cicada (some call them swamp cicadas and early morning cicadas, also known as Tibicen Tibicen) clings to its nymph shell on a tree, waiting to dry after emerging from its nymph state in the midnight hours in West Baltimore Saturday, Aug 24, 2013. Many people mistake these annual cicadas with the periodical or brood cicadas, which emerge every 13, or 17 years. This cicada has green eyes and the emergence is annual (even though these take up to five years to reach maturity) while the periodic broods have been seen with red eyes (according to http://static.ideastations.org/Cicada-Differences.pdf. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

Move over, Brood X, there’s a new cicada in town.

It might be another 17 years before swarms of the red-eyed arthropods return, but in the meantime there are even bigger cicadas emerging — and these ones also “like to scream,” according to northern Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain Park.

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The Neotibicen canicularis, or dog day cicada (so called because the brood surfaces during the hottest months of the year, July and August, according to the Arthropod Museum of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville), are green with black eyes. They emerge in far fewer numbers than their periodical 17-year and 13-year cycle cousins — meaning they’re quieter, too.

Dog day cicadas take between two and three years to mature. Because the population isn’t entirely in sync, different dog day cicada groups emerge each year, giving them the appearance of being annual.

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“Like all cicadas, they are harmless,” according to the national park in Thurmont.

The noisy critter can even be a benefit to gardeners by aerating the soil and acting as a fertilizer for plants when they die and rot in vast numbers.

They’re also a crunchy, gluten-free snack for wildlife and humans alike.

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