The 2021 Cicada Invasion Will Yield a Stealthy Response from Mother Nature

Dan Weckerly
Cicada-eating Copperhead Snake
Image via Pauline Rosenberg, Creative Commons.

This year’s emerging crop of cicadas is about to yield another wildlife phenomenon — one that may be as unwelcome as the bugs themselves, reports Doug Gross for the Yardley Patch. 

Next month, thousands of Brood X cicadas will wake from a 17-year underground slumber. Then, they’ll wriggle to the surface and sing in their trademark buzzy voices.  

But that song may be short-lived. 

Mother Nature’s version of checks and balances is usually pretty efficient in these matters. When one species gets overabundant, she sends another along to winnow the flock. 

Or in this case, she slithers something along. 

It seems that copperhead snakes, the venomous viper found in Eastern North America (yes, Pennsylvania), love munching on chirping cicadas. 

Cicadas are a “pretty easy snack” for the copperheads, Stephen Richter, an Eastern Kentucky University biology professor, explained.  

“Why would such a well-armed predator bother to dine on cicadas?” writer Andy Gluesenkamp asked in Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. “For the same reason we eat fast food: It’s cheap and easy.” 

Copperheads aren’t particularly aggressive. They’ll strike defensively, but they are rarely deadly to humans. 

Still, if you’re out in your garden listening to chattering cicadas, watch your feet. 

More about who may be eating whom in your backyard this summer is at the Yardley Patch