What do cicadas eat? Lifecycle, diet and biting habits explained

Spring began on March 19, and it has already brought heavy rains and floral blooms. Soon, we will see trillions of cicadas.

From late spring to early summer, 17 states will see swarms of Brood XIII and Brood XIX cicadas. These two separate cicada groups are set to emerge in a simultaneous event that hasn’t occurred in 221 years and won’t happen again until 2245.

The insects do not live very long above ground, but should homeowners and gardeners worry about their plants becoming a cicada's snack? Here's what to know about the bug's diet.

What do cicadas eat?

Cicadas do not have mouths. Instead, the insects have a long, straw-like tube that helps them drink fluids, pest experts previously told the Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Because of this, cicadas can't munch on leaves or vegetables like other pests can. Instead, they feed on liquids from plants, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Periodical cicadas, including the Brood XIII and Brood XIX, spend the majority of their lives underground in larval form. The larvae suck liquids from tree roots for sustenance, while adult cicadas drink from woody shrubs or trees, the National Wildlife Federation reports

Oak, maple, willow and ash trees are dietary staples, but the bug will feed on any big plant available, according to Orkin.

While cicadas do not harm trees through the way they feed, risks arise when females lay eggs on them. Follow USA TODAY's guide to save your trees and shrubs from damage.

Graphics: Here's what 'Cicadageddon 2024' will sound like, and how long it will last.

Can cicadas bite?

No, cicadas cannot bite.

Since cicadas do not have mouths, "they can't bite you, even if they want to," Elizabeth Barnes, exotic forest pest educator at Purdue, previously told the Indianapolis Star.

When do cicadas come out in 2024?

This year, the two cicada broods are expected to emerge starting in mid-May and ending in late June. If the weather is consistently warm and dry, the cicadas will finish mating sooner, which would mean a shorter season.

Expect cicadas in the following states:

  • Alabama

  • Arkansas

  • Georgia

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Iowa

  • Kentucky

  • Louisiana

  • Michigan

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • North Carolina

  • Oklahoma

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee

  • Wisconsin

  • Virginia

Cicadas 2024 map

The map below shows the approximate locations for broods emerging in 2024.

The cicadas are coming: Check out a 2024 map of where the two broods will emerge.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What do cicadas eat? The periodical insect's diet, explained.