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The Cicadas Are Coming! Here's When To Expect Billions Of These Red-Eyed Insects In Region

The 17-year periodical cicada has red eyes and black bodies.
The 17-year periodical cicada has red eyes and black bodies. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Billions of periodical cicadas are preparing to emerge from underground and make their way into the area after their customary years-long slumber.

Brood X cicadas - also known as the Great Eastern Brood or the “Big Brood” - is expected to begin emerging across the southern part of the country before making its way up the East Coast at the beginning of spring.

The sounds of summer may be a little louder this year as the Brood emerges and joins annual cicadas that make their presence known every year when the weather warms up.

Other periodical groups of red-eyed cicadas emerge every 11 or 13 years. 

The last time Brood X made the rounds in the region was in 2004. It is made up of three different species: Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini and Magicicada septendecula. The next generate will resurface in 2038.

The Brood will begin emerging when the ground temperature hits approximately 65 degrees, likely no later than May.

“The reason that this is such an impressive event … is No. 1: it happens nowhere else on the planet,” University of Maryland professor emeritus Michael Raupp said on Fox News earlier this month.

“We have periodical cicadas. There are cicadas on every continent except Antarctica, but it’s just in the eastern half of the United States that we have the periodical cicadas.”

A mapping site from the University of Connecticut highlighted 15 states that may get hit the hardest by the invasion of Brood X, including New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

All the other states expected to be most impacted by the 17-year periodical cicadas are further south, down to Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Raupp warned that it might not be “billions” of cicadas emerging with the warmer weather. It could be trillions.

“The other piece of this puzzle is that they’re going emerge in massive numbers. And, when I say massive, I mean massive,” he continued. “There are going to be as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre.

“People say billions. I tend to hyperbole, but I’m saying there are probably going to be trillions.”

Most people won’t see the cicadas - even as they come by the billions - as they tend to hide out in trees and only emerge to mate, but one will be able to hear their distinct chirping until the weather cools down and they migrate away.

Raupp went on to note that the cicadas making the rounds are not necessarily a bad thing, particularly after the struggles many faced in 2020 navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hey, this is a chance to go out in your backyard and have a National Geographic special happening right there,” he said. “It’s going to be birth. It’s going to be death. It’s going to be predation. It’s going to be competition.

“It’s going to be better than an episode of ‘Outlander.’ There’s going to be romance in the treetops when the big boy band cranks it up.”

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