Brood X: Billions of cicadas are about to emerge after 17 years underground

Movies about invading insects have scared moviegoers for decades. But now a real invasion of insects from so-called periodicals cicadas will shame Hollywood by its size and scope.

Over the next several weeks along the East Coast and Midwest, cicadas will emerge from the ground, shed their skin, and participate in a month-long mating ritual, making quite a scene – climbing trees and singing songs of the earth. coupling as loud as 100 decibels, the same intensity as a jackhammer.

“It’s a pretty big event. I mean, we’re talking about trillions of cicadas that will emerge, sing, call, find mates in your garden,” Dr. Jessica Ware, entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli said.

There are more than a dozen known broods of cicadas in the United States, classified by when they emerge together from the ground. Brood X is considered one of the greatest and appears like a clock every 17 years.

“I think it’s not that the cicadas know anything per se. I think part of that is hardwired. So there’s a series of biochemical cascades, you know, hormones going up and down. that trigger a trigger. And if you have a certain hormone level and the soil temperature is 64 degrees, it’s time to go, “Ware said.

Once the cicadas emerge, time is on their side. Ware said they were on a “short clock” – about three or four weeks to find a mate and lay their eggs before they died.

“If you spend your entire youth scene, 17 years underground, and then you have three or four weeks to do all the work,” she says.

What is exciting for cicadas can be frightening for some humans. But Ware said not to worry: they don’t bite or sting.

“In fact, they do no harm to humans. They don’t even really hurt your garden, ”Ware said. “Their goal is really to find each other, mate and then train the next generations of cicadas.”

Even though they don’t pose a threat to us, humans pose a threat to them. Urban sprawl and overdevelopment have destroyed entire populations of cicadas. And due to global warming, periodic cicadas are emerging between a week and a month earlier than a few decades ago. Ware said it could even shorten the number of years they stay underground.


But on a more positive note, cicadas will become a treat for many other creatures in nature, even some brave humans.

“They’re a great source of protein, you know? I love eating cicadas. I think that’s a nice bonus. A cornucopia, a food source,” Ware said.

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