Remember those hot summer days swimming in the lake, or fishing from the banks of the Ocoee River, with the sound of cicadas singing from the trees? And later that night around a campfire in the Cherokee National Forest or Great Smoky Mountains as katydids lulled you to sleep after you snuggled into your sleeping bag? Summer is once again within our grasp when we can get outdoors and do all the things we love during the season. Sometimes nature gives us a little extra like the periodical cicadas. This year we’ll get two broods of cicadas emerging from the forest floor–the 13-year and 17-year broods, which will show up mainly in East Tennessee in this part of the United States. Hold onto your hats, it’s about to get loud at Carolina Ocoee and Carolina Outfitters. 


Cicadas vs. Katydids

Cicadas are different from katydids in that they are heard during the day time. Katydids sing at night. Annual and sometimes periodical cicadas arrive each summer. Worldwide they live in deserts, forests, and grasslands. Periodical cicadas have black backs, orange bellies, and red eyes. Cicadas tend to be noisy making sounds like ticks, buzzing, whining, and screams. Over a million of them together can be deafening. Cicadas are a source of food for birds and other wildlife and, with millions of them in the trees, there’s plenty left to breed and return during the next cycle. Even humans can eat them, though, they would need to be super extra crispy fried before we would even consider them a food source. The lifespan of a cicada is only about 4 to 6 weeks. Cicadas are harmless and are beneficial to the environment by adding nutrients to the soil as they decompose. They also improve water filtration into the ground.


Annual Cicadas vs Periodical Cicadas

In 2011 periodical cicadas crawled out of the earth and descended on the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest near East Tennessee and portions of Western North Carolina where they filled the daytime air with their mating call-a deafening wall of sound. The females laid hundreds of eggs into tree branches. Once the adult cicadas died out, the eggs hatched and dropped to the ground burrowing as deep as 8 feet, where they’ve been feeding on the sap of roots ever since. For the first time in East Tennessee since 1803, a 13-year brood will emerge in the same year as a 17-year brood. There are two types of cicada–annual and periodical. Annual cicadas emerge every year. Periodicals emerge after a span of years, and they are due to land on the Great Smoky Mountains and East Tennessee trees this year in 2024 beginning between late April and early June with a life expectancy of 4 to 6 weeks. You will hear them until at least the end of June. 

Don’t worry, cicadas won’t eat your garden or harm your pets, they’ll just make a lot of noise. It’s a historic event worth tuning in for. After all, the last time two broods happened at the same time, Thomas Jefferson was president and the Louisiana Purchase was made from France.


So, pack up your camping gear, or hiking gear, and head to Ducktown, Tennessee where you can also go white water rafting with us at Carolina Ocoee while you’re in town! Book your white water rafting adventure here.


Margaret Marr, is a local author of paranormal, mystery, and suspense laced with romance. She has written over 15 books available on Amazon. 


From the Blog

Our Posts