If you’ve heard a loud pulsating or buzzing sound from the trees in the summer, you are likely hearing cicadas. These winged insects are nature’s soundtrack, with different species singing at different times of the day. This song is their mating call and each species has their own unique sound and rhythm. Trees are their favorite hangout spot and where they create silts in branches to lay eggs. So, there’s little surprise you can find multiple species of cicadas in Maryland.
Most of the forests in Maryland are deciduous, with broad-leaf trees such as maples and oaks. You can also find various mountainous, coastal, or open woodland habitats that are ideal for cicadas.
Let’s learn more about 10 common species of cicadas in Maryland, including their unique song you can listen out for. Enjoy!
10 cicadas in Maryland
10 common species of cicadas in Maryland are the Linne’s cicada, Cassini periodical cicada, northern dusk singing cicada, Davis’ southeastern dog-day cicada, lyric cicada, hieroglyphic cicada, coastal scissor grinder cicada, swamp cicada, Robinson’s annual cicada, and say’s cicada.
1. Linne’s cicada
Scientific name: Cicadettana calliope calliope
You can find the Linne’s cicada throughout Maryland from July through September, with a peak in August. They are common in city parks and woodlots where they sing all day long when it’s warm out. Their song is a high-pitched, rapidly pulsating sound that increases in volume towards a rattle similar to a saltshaker.
These cicadas are green, black, and sometimes with brown camo patterns. They also have a distinctive bend in their wings.
2. Cassini periodical cicada
Scientific name: Magicicada cassinii
Cassini periodical cicadas have black bodies, orange wings and legs, and reddish-orange eyes. They are typically more inland near the Piedmont plateau and Appalachian mountain regions when they appear in Maryland.
Periodical cicadas are also known as 17-year cicada’s since they appear every 17 years based on different broods, with the Cassini periodical peaking in June every 17 years. Two other common periodical cicada’s you can find in Maryland are the decim periodical cicada (Magicicada septendecim) and decula periodical cicdada (Magicicada septendecula).
3. Northern dusk singing cicada
Scientific name: Megatibicen auletes
The northern dusk singing cicada is olive or rusty brown with beige or gray eyes. They get their name from the fact they sing their monotonous, slow-pulsed tones exclusively at dusk. This species is the largest North American cicada, growing around 2.25 to 2.75 inches.
You can find these cicadas mostly in the coastal plains regions of Maryland. They are attracted to the high-intensity glow of sodium vapor lights.
4. Davis’ southeastern dog-day cicada
Scientific name: Neotibicen davisi davisi
Davis’ southeastern dog-day cicadas range in color from greens to rusty brown and have a crown-like pattern on their body. Their song is a whining buzz that starts off soft and gets louder before tapering off. Unlike other species, they lack pulsations in their short buzz-saw sound.
These cicadas come out in August through October and are typically in Maryland’s southern and eastern coastal regions. They prefer coastal plain forests and areas with an abundance of deciduous trees or pines.
5. Lyric cicada
Scientific name: Neotibicen lyricen
The lyric cicada is found throughout Maryland in wooded residential areas, orchards, and deciduous forests. On warm days, they will sing all day long, with a peak at dusk.
They don’t have pulsating tones like most cicadas. Instead, their songs are a rattling, buzzy trill that starts soft and gradually increases in volume.
These small cicadas are black, green, or brown with brown eyes. They also have prominent patterns on their head that are reddish-brown.
6. Hieroglyphic cicada
Scientific name: Neocicada hieroglyphica
The hieroglyphic cicada has a beautiful patterning on its pale, golden abdomen and vibrant black and turquoise upperbody. These cicadas can be heard early in the season, from June through July. They make a high-pitched drone sounding similar to model airplanes.
In Maryland, these cicadas are common in the eastern shore and southern regions. They typically hang out on trees in dry woods of pine and oak.
7. Coastal scissor grinder cicada
Scientific name: Neotibicen latifasciatus
The coastal scissor grinder cicada is green or brown with brown eyes and a white “X” on its back. These cicadas are most common in the western, central, and capital regions of Maryland. You can typically see them in orchards, city woodlots, and suburban yards.
As their name suggests, they sound like grinding scissors making them easy to identify. The song is buzzy and loud with slow, pronounced pulsations.
8. Swamp cicada
Scientific name: Neotibicen tibicen tibicen
Swamp cicadas, also called morning cicadas, occur throughout Maryland from June through September. They are the only species in the state that live on low shrubs and weedy vegetations in marshy or swampy habitats. They have dark bodies with bright green veins on their wings and patches on their heads.
These cicadas are known to start singing early in the morning until noon. Their song is a soft buzz that slowly changes into a pulsating drone.
9. Robinson’s annual cicada
Scientific name: Neotibicen robinsonianus
The Robinson’s annual cicada occurs every year between June and October, with peaks in August. Their song consists of raspy buzzes lasting around 1.5 seconds each. You can usually hear them on warm days during the evenings.
You can find these cicadas in the western, southern, and central regions of Maryland. They typically live on deciduous trees along river edges. They have black eyes and vary in body color from dark green to light tan.
10. Say’s cicada
Scientific name: Okanagana rimosa rimosa
The say’s cicada is named after the father of American entomology, Thomas Say. You can commonly find these cicadas in Washington county and northern counties in the central region of Maryland.
They are dark black to brown and have bright orange markings on their body and underside. Their song is typically a high-pitched, prolonged, metallic buzz with around 75 pulses per second.