These flying insects have lived underground for 17 years and the summer of 2021 is their time to come out into the world above ground.
These insects are called ‘periodical’ cicadas since they only emerge above ground after a fixed period. Depending on the variety of Cicadas, they emerge every 13 years or like the current group called Brood X, after every 17 years.
Brood X has been feeding on sap from roots of plants underground for the last 17 years. They are emerging in certain parts of the United States of America and are restricted to these areas only.
Image: A mature adult cicada moutling out of its exoskeleton once it is above ground. Now it has wings to fly!
Male insects create a loud noise, to attract female cicadas. The noise level created by a group can be compared to the noise made by a motorbike!
This current generation, Brood X, was ‘born’ in 2004!
Brood X will spend 2 to 4 weeks above ground. The cicadas will lay their eggs which will hatch 4 to 6 weeks later. The newly hatched cicada nymphs will from the trees and burrowed into the dirt. This offspring will repeat the cycle and remain underground until 2038.
Know Them Better
Question: Can they bite humans?
Answer: No, they do not bite or sting humans.
Question: Do they damage crops and vegetation?
Answer: They do not ruin gardens or crops. They only drink the sap from trees and stems which does not cause any longterm damage. Smaller plants can be covered with outdoor sheets or adding more water and mulch to them will protect them from damage.
Question: Are they like locusts?
Answer: No, they are not like locusts. Adult, flying locust swarms destroy a lot of crops and vegetation.
Question: Why are they so noisy?
Answer: Since they only spend a short duration of their life above ground they use that time to attract a mate. And making noise is the way a male cicada finds a female to mate with.
Brood X is causing some disturbance to people though. Their sheer numbers, 1.4 million per square acre, and the noise they make, can be troublesome for those wanting to spend time outdoors.