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After 17 Years Underground, Millions Of Cicadas Are Set To Emerge In 3 US States

After 17 Years Underground, Millions Of Cicadas Are Set To Emerge In 3 US States

These cicadas only appear above ground once every 17 years after spending a major portion of their lives in the dirt.

The sound of crickets chirping in the evening is usually something that most people would welcome. However, there are other insects whose screeches and buzzes that can frankly be irritating. The summer of 2020 will be quite a noisy one in some of the southern states as a group of insects called the Periodical cicadas will be emerging from underground after a long time. Though they are often mistaken for locusts, these insects are of two types, the 13-cicadas, and the 17 ones, the number is attributed to the number of years they spend underground, ABC reports. 

Cicada waking up - stock photo Credit: photo by Bill Koplitz (getty images)

 

According to AccuWeather, the group of 17-year cicadas (also dubbed as Brood IX) has already started to emerge in northwestern North Carolina, southwestern Virginia, and southeastern West Virginia. These strange yet seemingly harmless insects are known to spend most of their lives as nymphs in the dirt. They pass their time away sucking sap from tree roots but as the weather warms up in their 17th year, they began to rise to the surface. 



 

 

Cicadas will be spotted climbing trees or some other vertical surface and shed their immature exoskeletons. These are large arg bugs that emerge from the ground and they will be ready to begin their mating cycles. Following some months of flying, mating, and filling the forest with their deafening noises, the adult cicadas will die by the end of the summer as the eggs and newborns retreat into the ground for their extended hibernation. Cicadas aren't a threat to people, but they can definitely be a nuisance. A chorus of male cicadas looking for a mate can reach up to 100 decibels—that's about as loud as a car stereo blasting at full volume.



 

 



 

 

All this and more will be spotted in the aforementioned and some other eastern states in the coming weeks. Different broods of cicada follow different timelines and it so happens that 2020 is the year for the newest generation of Brood IX, marking its debut. There will be up to 1.5 million insects that belong to this brood as they make their ascent when the soil warms up to temperatures around and above 64° F. The speculated time for the ground to reach this level of heat is around mid-May, but we've had a recent wave of cold weather in the mid-Atlantic so the cicadas are expected to arrive later than usual. 



 

 

"Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas emerging at once may have a substantial noise issue," said Eric Day, an entomologist in Virginia Tech's Department of Entomology said. "Hopefully, any annoyance at the disturbance is tempered by just how infrequent — and amazing — this event is. When the cicadas emerge, the amount of biomass they provide could serve as a food source for potential predators to take advantage of," Virginia Tech's Department of Entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Science said in a press release. "It is theorized that these cicadas have evolved to avoid synching up with predator cycles by having a 13- or 17-year prime number emergence interval."



 

 

You can track which years the periodical cicadas will return to, and in which regions of the U.S too on the website Cicada Mania. Last year, Brood XIII infiltrated Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Oklahoma, according to the site. The next year's brood (Brood X) is speculated to hit Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington DC. 



 

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