The 17-year cicadas from the Brood II batch — billions and billions of them — are expected to burst out of the earth in a wide band running from northern Georgia to New York as soon as the soil reaches a temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch for them any time now during May.
True, that stupid groundhog didn’t predict this endless winter, but the weather is going to finally start warming up, so watch out.
And then the eardrum popping insects should boil out of the ground at sometime around sunset, find a friendly branch, and start their final molt.
Then it’s party time. The males will start singing, pretty much like crickets. Extremely loud crickets.
With billions of 17-year cicadas coming out at once, and half of them males who gather in so-called chorus trees to sing out to attract passing females, it can get a little noisy.
“We’re going to see dime-sized holes appear in the ground. That’s the cicada burrowing out. They’re going to climb out onto trees and start to sing out,” said Greg O’Donnell, a Virginia forestry spokesman.
It takes 17 years for the species to develop underground, presumably because the roots they chew down there aren’t particularly nutritious and don’t allow them to grow any faster. They are not merely hibernating down there. They’re just moving very, very slowly, because…hey, it’s dirt, not air, you know?
” Oh yeah, they’re down there doing whatever they do underground, growing and – you know, they start out very tiny, and they grow to be quite large. So they’re doing something in that 17 years,” said cicada expert John Cooley.
Yeah. Cicada expert. They pay people to do that.
And don’t worry. Cooley doesn’t have to go 17 years between gigs.
Brood II has been growing since 1996. Once they mate, die, and vanish by mid-July, they’re gone until 2030. But there are multiple species of 13-year and 17-year cicadas in the genus.
Another 17-year old cicada, Brood III, will be coming in 2014.
[17 year cicada photo by 2265524729 via Shutterstock]