Year of the cicada: After 17 years, large cicada brood will emerge aboveground

This spring, the eastern United States will play host to one of nature’s great marvels — periodical cicadas, mysterious insects that live underground either 13 or 17 years before emerging for a few short weeks of furious mating closely followed by mass death. 


I was in Morganton over the Memorial Day Holiday chasing birdies in the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest per my annual Forest Service point count contract. I was headed to my motel room after coming out of the woods when I began to notice trees showing dead leaves at the ends of the branches. The first two I noticed were hickories and I began to wonder if there was maybe some kind of insect pest that targeted hickories — kinda like the locust leaf-miner that turns our locust trees brown in summer. But soon I began to see oaks and other species exhibiting the same symptoms. I noticed them in town, so there weren’t a whole lot of trees and the brown tipped ones really stood out.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.