When cicada nymphs (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) hatch they can spend anywhere from two to seventeen years feeding on roots underground. After they’ve sufficiently grown and developed they emerge from the ground, crawl upward, and molt into adults. The adults then crawl even higher into trees where the males serenade the females in an attempt to mate. Their common and well-known songs make them a staple of any summer evening.
13- and 17-year periodical cicadas of the genus Magicicada get the most attention because of their long life span and fascinating synchronized emergence. The sheer numbers of individuals that flood the landscape at one time ensure abundant mates and survival in numbers against predators.
Far more common, however, are the approximately 160 short-period cicada species. Although referred to as “annual” cicadas, these individuals actually spend two or three years as underground nymphs before emerging as adults. These cicadas don’t have a synchronized emergence but the adults manage to live long enough to find others to mate with. While periodical and annual cicadas have different reproductive strategies, both seem successful in their endeavors.