Expert explains why cicadas have been missed since the Australian summer of 2021

The Australian summer is synonymous with hot, humid weather, barbecue, mosquito and the deafening scream of cicadas humming in the backyard.

But some Australians have been quick to point out the noticeable absence of one of our most iconic sounds, and experts say they are not alone.

Cicadas have been clearly missed from the summer until now in 2021, but fortunately their disappearance is due to a natural process that enthusiasts say is completely normal.

Billions of cicadas are expected to appear this year in Indiana and several other states after living in the ground for 17 years.  (Photo by Jeremy Hogan / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)
Aussies have noticed a clear shortage of cicadas this summer. (SOPA Images / LightRocket via Gett)

“Last year there were a lot more cicadas,” said cicada expert Dr. Lindsay Popple.

“Several species were synchronized last year and came out together in numbers, so by extension you are bound to have a quieter season after that.”

Dr. Popple said the summer after a major outbreak of cicadas is usually less significant because the next generation spends a number of years underground before reappearing.

Cicadas are not a big pet, but have developed a bizarre lifestyle, according to WVU researchers.
Cicadas actually spend most of their life underground. (Angie Macias / WVU)

“Another factor is that a lot of eastern Australia has had higher-than-average winter rainfall, and it produces conditions ripe for natural enemies of cicadas,” he added.

Most people are not aware that cicadas actually spend most of their lives underground, and they only get above ground when it’s time to mate.

“So it’s just the last part of their life cycle that they show up and start making all that noise.

There is a giant predator lurking in this picture

“Once they appear as adults – it depends on the weather and conditions – but they can be above ground for only one or two weeks, especially the smaller ones.”

Dr. Popple said it may even take a few more years before we see a mass resurgence of the creatures again.

“I reckon that around 2023 or 2024, it will probably (not) be until then, we get the big boom,” he said.

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