Posted in: Animal News

Billions Of Cicadas Expected On East Coast This Spring

17 Year Cicadas

Billions of cicadas are expected to infest the East Coast of the United States this spring. The large cricket-like insects have been hibernating for the past 17 years.

Brood II cicadas are expected to make their appearance along the east coast with a buzzing racket that compares in magnitude to the sound of a New York subway train.

Cicadas appear every year on the East Coast, in the South and in the Midwest United States. But the yearly cicada numbers pale in comparison to the 17-year cycle insects.

The Brood II cicada spends almost its whole life underground feeding off tree roots. The insect goes through five stages before it reappears above ground along the coast from New England to North Carolina. Craig Gibbs, an entomologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo, explained:

“Brood II is a periodic cicada that hatches out every 17 years. The specific thing about these 17-year cicadas is they are going to be a very dark colored body. They have really bright red eyes, and they also have bright red wing veins.”

This year, billions of cicadas will appear between mid-April and late May. Residents all along the East Coast will be bombarded with millions of the insects per square mile. Thankfully, the loud insects are harmless to trees and humans — though the noise they make is certainly annoying.

When the ground heats up to 64 degrees Fahrenheit, the nymph cicadas will emerge from the ground and shed their skin. They then crawl up into the trees where their shells harden. Then they will spend four to six weeks singing for mates and breeding. After that, it is back into the ground for another 17 years.

And while the noise is definitely annoying (at least for humans), rest assured that the billions of cicadas won’t reappear until 2030. Are you planning on staying outside while the Brood II cicadas take over the East Coast this year?

[Image via ShutterStock]

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7 Responses to “Billions Of Cicadas Expected On East Coast This Spring”

  1. Anonymous

    There are actually 3 species of periodical cicada, not just one. Annual cicadas are not the same species as the periodical cicadas and actually even though adults are annually emerging, the nymphs (immatures, 5 stages) that live underground feeding on on fluids from tree roots live 2-5 years, but there are annual, summer emergences of the species.

  2. Anonymous

    "After that, it is back into the ground for another 17 years." The statement is misleading. The adults that are active now do not go back into the ground. The eggs hatch and the first instar nymphs fall from the trees and dig into the ground to find roots of grasses and trees on which to feed by inserting their mouthparts to suck plant fluids.