Published: Mon, April 18, 2016
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Noisy cicadas emerging after 17 years

Noisy cicadas emerging after 17 years

"Nearly all periodical cicadas grow and mature into adults at the same time, which is why we witness such huge groups of them every 17 or 13 years", the Library of Congress reports. These types of cicadas can only be found in North America, and certain broods only appear in certain years. Once cicadas mate and lay billions of eggs, adults die off Nearly immediately while the younger ones had to undergo the same process which their predecessor had gone through.

Billions of the chirping, red-eyed bugs are set to rise out of the ground across the East Coast next month for a once-every-17-years mating spree.

While cicadas don't cause any significant damage to plants and aren't poisonous nor known for biting or stinging humans, people find them a nuisance due to the noise they create. Locally, periodical cicadas will pop out of the ground when soil temperatures at a depth of 7 to 8 inches reach about 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Noisy cicadas emerging after 17 years
Noisy cicadas emerging after 17 years

Their brief adulthoods last just long enough for them to mate - accompanied by the notoriously loud mating calls sung made by males from morning through the night - and for the females to lay hundreds of eggs inside slits they carve into the branches of trees. There are 14 broods that emerge in different regions on 17-year cycles. "It takes roughly six weeks for the eggs to hatch and the nymphs to emerge". Females can lay up to 400 eggs each across 40 to 50 sites, the Washington Post reported.

There are several "broods" of cicadas, which is based on which cycle they're part of.

This is not the brood that affects Maryland most directly, however. The timing of their life cycle does not change significantly over generations, but warm or cold streaks this spring could have an effect. Some have 13-year life spans, and some are even annual, according to Auburn University's Department of Entomology. These are the 17-year-life cycle Magicicada casssinii, Magicicada septendecim and the Magicicada septendecuula. However, the USDA reports Brood V is the largest. "It's going to be a wild ride", Wendy Weirich, who directs outdoor education for Cleveland Metroparks in OH, told the Plain Dealer.

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