By Amber Veverka
Periodic cicadas love the area south of Charlotte, according to early results of a region-wide “citizen science” survey.
The cicada watch program data is still being analyzed, but Pineville, Matthews, Waxhaw and Lancaster already have shown the greatest numbers of the 13-year cicada, said Chris Matthews, natural resources manager for Mecklenburg Park & Recreation. “That whole area seemed to have a whole lot of them, and other areas of town had none at all,” he said.
The periodic cicadas have finished their life cycle — spending 13 years underground, emerging from holes to shed their skins, gain wings, mate and die. The eggs they laid will hatch as nymphs, then return underground until 2024. The cicadas Piedmont residents now hear sawing away at night are annual cicadas.
The county’s naural resources team relied on 150 volunteers who called or emailed when they spotted the red-eyed insects or their shed skins. Development has had a major impact on the 13-year cicada population, Matthews said. “Where we have large trees is where there are going to be cicadas,” he said. When large stands of hardwoods are cut the cicadas can’t find a place to lay eggs. Or if their underground holes from 13 years ago were covered over with a parking lot or other development, they would never emerge at all.