A massive swarm is emerging from their slumber after 17 years.
A massive swarm of cicadas is about to descend upon the United States as another brood’s 17-year life cycle comes to an end.
Residents in parts of Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia can expect billions of cicadas to descend upon them once the cicadas emerge to mate when it gets warm enough, according to a Washington Post report.
Fortunately, cicadas aren’t a pest. They don’t damage plants and trees, and are harmless to humans. They’re just big, ugly bugs that make an irritating, high-pitched buzz constantly throughout the summer that may drive you crazy.
The life cycle of this insect begins underground, and 17 years later when the soil reaches 64 degrees, they emerge and emit their loud cries in search of mates. There can be as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre in some areas, according to the report.
The adults live for four to six weeks, during which they’re doing nothing but mating and laying eggs.
Once a male and female has mated, the female will lay fertilized eggs in small, live twigs. The nymphs emerge from their eggs six weeks later, and then they drop from the trees and burrow in the ground, surviving on juices from plant roots for another 13 to 17 years.
In a study published in PLOS last year, reseearchers found that cicadas, which are actually mute, use the sound of their wings to communicate.
“Most male cicadas use specialized physical mechanisms, like the tymbal and/or the stridulatory organs, to produce loud and diverse sounds for communication,” reads a statement from the journal. “‘Mute’ cicadas from the genus Karenia do not have any specialized sound-producing structures, but the name is somewhat misleading, as they are still able to produce sounds. The authors of this study analyzed sounds produced by the male cicadas and their body shape to investigate how a species of ‘mute’ cicada K. caelatata emits acoustic signals, as well as determine their function in communicating with other cicadas.”