Cicadas may give away their pending emergence by building thousands of "chimneys" or "stovepipes" on the ground, especially near trees. They will emerge through these structures when they leave the ground and crawl up trees and shrubs.
The transparent wings of cicadas are said to filter out ultraviolet light. People who have placed a cicada wing on their skin prior to exposure to the sun have noticed that they do not tan under the wing.
Male cicadas die soon after mating. Females lay 400 to 600 eggs in as many as 40 to 50 different nests before they die.
Cicadas generally leave no lasting damage, except perhaps to young trees and shrubs. After they have bred and died, they leave the area littered with twigs and leaves that were damaged when the females laid their eggs. The remains of cicada bodies may lie so densely on the ground that there is a smell of decay, but the bodies provide good nutrients for the soil.
Billions of cicada nymphs hatch in their nests high in the trees, drop to the ground, and burrow into the earth. There they find a succulent tree root, which they tap into with a special strawlike mouth part. They feed on the tree sap and pass through their various growth stages until, 17 years later, it is time to emerge and renew their life cycle.