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Good Question: What Bug’s Creating All That Late Summer Buzz?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Over the past few weeks, you might have been hearing a loud buzzing sound outside. It sounds like buzzing power lines, but it’s actually an insect we usually start hearing in Minnesota in July.

“All the buzzing is cicadas,” said U of M Extension Entomologist Jeffrey Hahn. He said he heard from so many people about the cicadas at the U of M Extension State Fair booth that he decided to write an article about it.

Cicadas are insects that live underground for four to eight years. They generally come to the surface every July in Minnesota and live for about two months. But, this year, we didn’t start hearing them until mid-August.

People generally don’t see them because they spend their time in the tree canopy, but their calling card is the buzzing noise they make in short bursts. Hahn said it’s a mating call.

Lisa Pauly from Maple Grove emailed WCCO back in July wondering why she wasn’t hearing the insects.

“The silence is almost deafening,” she wrote.

Hahn said there could be two explanations. First, the late spring might have delayed their arrival.

“It compresses when they came out, so maybe the actual number is the same, but they might be more compressed into a smaller period of time,” he said. “You might be hearing more at a time.”

He also said they might have come above ground mid-summer, but Minnesotans couldn’t hear their activity. Cicadas are more active in the hot weather.

“It may have been that they were out in July and we didn’t notice them that much,” he said. “Maybe the cooler weather slowed them down a bit.”

Hahn doesn’t think they are any louder this year than normal, but said they only buzz during the day. If you’re hearing a similar buzzing at night, it’s most likely a katydid.

He said the cicadas or the shells they leave behind won’t hurt anyone. Minnesota cicadas come up every year, making them different from the cicada species that only surface every 13 to 17 years.

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