17-Year Cicadas at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

17-Year Cicadas at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

Last Friday, it was my gosh darn 31st birthday, and I had the hankering to spend most of the day outside, preferably wandering around in a large garden setting whilst pretending to be a tiny woodland fairy… something most self-respecting 31 year-old women should absolutely do on a regular basis. So, my husband and I decided to head over to Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, a new destination for us both. It’s a little bit out of town—located in Oakdale, PA—but it’s a really beautiful drive out that way, through forested ravines that make you forget all about the city. Living within a medium-sized city such as Pittsburgh, with all the hustle and bustle and parking chairs and honking horns and very important championship parades, sometimes I forget that I live in Appalachia. I happen to think that Appalachia is the most beautiful region in America, but I’m a born-and-raised-and-damn-proud-of-it Appalachian, so I am very much biased in that regard. Did you know that Pittsburgh is the largest city in Appalachia? Lots of people don’t even know that Pittsburgh is in Appalachia, let alone it’s largest city. Oh boy, I digress. Let’s talk about cicadas.

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My husband and I had recently heard that this summer was going to be a big year for the 17-year cicadas in certain parts of western Pennsylvania, and we were hopeful that we might come across some pockets of them during our visit to Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Well, folks, let me tell you—we were not disappointed. The sound they make is super alien-like and immediately recognizable, so we knew we had arrived a the 2019 cicada party right when we stepped out of the car. Those buggers were literally raging. I mean, we saw thousands and thousands of these things. They were located all over the garden property (452 acres), but the highest concentration of them was in the open meadow section of the garden—which is where most of the photos in this post were taken.

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I think cicadas are so cool! Yeah, they’re kinda creepy and weird, but they are also so neat to observe and listen to. Plus, the fact that they only come out every 17 years (in this case) is pretty darn amazing. During our cicada-viewing birthday adventure, we also saw lots of exoskeletons (pictured below) which are a kind of shell-like skin that the cicadas leave behind when they molt into adulthood. Crazy stuff!!

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pictured above: cicada exoskeleton left behind on a tree in the woods at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

pictured above: cicada exoskeleton left behind on a tree in the woods at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

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If you are on the hunt for a full-on cicada rager this summer, I highly suggest you pop on over to Pittsburgh Botanic Garden to have a look at these strange and curious creatures. I also recommend checking out this helpful site, Cicada Mania, to view other areas of the country where cicadas are active. That site is great because it gives you details about the different cicada species, various cycles, locations, cicada activity years (past, present, and future), and lots more helpful info. Good luck! And as always, happy trails.