Image Source: Cicada Safari
Birds chirping won’t be the only sound of spring for many counties across the United States this year. Trillions of Brood X, a swarm of periodical cicada, will emerge from the ground in the next few weeks, making their presence known with a cacophony of shrill sounds.
Periodical cicada is known for its singular life cycles. This coming swarm, Brood X, has been biding its time, gnawing on tree roots underground since 2004 before being ready to emerge. This group appears every 17 years.
This event is unique to the United States.
“We are at the epicenter of an event that happens nowhere else on the planet except here in the Eastern United States,” Mike Raupp, a University of Maryland entomologist, said in a Washington Post article.
He explained there would be about 1.5 million cicadas per acre come mid-May.
Not everyone will be lucky enough to experience Brood X, though.
Where Brood X Will Emerge
Once the soil temperature reaches about 64℉, Brood X will stop eating tree roots and make its debut in 15 states across the U.S.
According to scientists, Georgia and other southern states will be where they first emerge. Parts of Illinois, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Delaware, Washington D.C., and more eastern regions will witness Brood X.
View this detailed map of Brood X from the University of Connecticut to see if you can expect to see Brood X.
What Happens Next?
Once Brood X emerges, the next four weeks become an intense mating period. They’ll spend a few weeks swarming trees and finding mates. You’ll be able to hear these cicadas mating, which can be pretty loud. Raupp said mating sounds reach up to 100 decibels, which is comparable to a lawnmower or chainsaw.
Adult cicadas die immediately after intercourse, but female cicadas will lay hundreds of eggs in pencil-sized tree branches.
Then, the eggs will sit idle for a bit of time. Once they hatch, the nymphs fall to the ground, dig into the soil, and begin gnawing on tree roots for the next 17 years.
This period when the cicadas first emerge is a culinary delicacy for wildlife. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, ants, snakes, frogs, and possums will devour these insects, making for a Thanksgiving-like feast.
Though loud, it’s essential to note cicadas are harmless to humans. Female cicadas may cause damage to saplings and recently transplanted trees while laying their eggs. Scientists recommend waiting to plant new trees until after Brood X disappears.
You can help locate Brood X for science purposes with a free app, Cicada Safari.