Magicicadas—also known as 17-year cicadas—are expected to emerge from their underground burrows in the spring of 2013. The large insects hatch when the ground temperature reaches daytime averages of 64 degrees F., meaning the hatch will start in April in North Carolina and continue through May up into New England.
“In places where they’re going to be present, it’s going to be spectacular. There could be as many as 1 billion cicadas emerging per square mile,” said Michael Raupp, a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland.
After living underground for 17 years, their life above ground is relatively short. They clumsily fly into trees where for a week or more they make a loud chirping sound to attract a mate. After mating they fall dead to the forest floor or into nearby streams and ponds where trout and other fish will quickly learn to recognize them as food.
East coast fly fishers should prepare their fly boxes for this unusual occurrence. Magicicadas are the are 1.5 to 2 inches long with black bodies, red eyes, and orange wings. To find more out about the insects themselves, visit cicadamania.com or click here to see a map of exactly where the species is known to exist.
For fly patterns, there are many to choose from. My favorite for many types of cicadas is a Cathy’s Super Beetle. Tie it on a size 8 heavy-wire hook, and for extra cicada realism, use oranage thread and orange Hi-Vis for the wing instead of white Hi-Vis.