Billions Of Cicadas Are Emerging In The US For The First Time In 17 Years

Billions of cicadas have spent the last 17 years sleeping underground, and they’re finally ready to emerge and make an appearance in the US.

According to ENTOMOLOGY TODAY, cicadas, a type of insect in the order Hemiptera, stay underground for 13 to 17 years and live off sap from tree roots. Eventually, they all emerge together in spring and shed their exoskeletons and mate before dying.

This year, the USDA Forest Service reported that Brood X, the group of cicadas born back in 2004, will emerge throughout the US, in states like Maryland, Indiana, Delaware, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennesse, and Washington DC.

They’re expected to pop up anytime considering the weather is starting to warm.

Photo: flickr/JanetandPhil

Once they’ve emerged, it’ll be hard to miss them since billions or even trillions of the 1.5 inch long insects will be covering much of the Eastern US.

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According to ENTOMOLOGY TODAY, Dr. Chris Simon, a molecular systematist who studies cicadas at the University of Connecticut, said, “The year of cicada emergence is cued by what I and others believe to be an internal molecular clock.” She continued to explain that they believe the clock is “calibrated by environmental cues that signify the passage of a year, such as the trees leafing out, changing the composition of the xylem fluid on which they feed.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to her, they believe the “molecular clock” keeps track of the years and is triggered in year 13 or 17 to cause emergence. The specific day they emerge is thought to be “triggered by accumulated ground temperature.”

Some people have already started seeing Brood X emerge and shared their findings on social media.

Photo: Twitter/Greg Bensimon
Photo: Instagram/betsy_alperin

The National Weather Service reported that temperatures in the Eastern US are cooler than average, so some cicadas could be staying underground until the temperature heats up.

The Washington Post predicts that the peak emergence will occur May 18-20. Even if you don’t see the insects, it’s likely you’ll hear their loud buzz. In fact, these insects are so loud that their mating song can be as loud as a lawnmower!

Photo: flickr/JanetandPhil

Brood X has been underground through so much change, from the emergence and dominance of Facebook to presidencies from Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden, to the 2008 housing crisis, and so much more.

What a strange world it must be to wake up in after all these years!

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