by Molly John, M.J. co-owner
As many of you have heard, this is the year of the Cicadas.Brood X, commonly known as ‘The 17-year Cicadas’ will be emerging from the ground.
This particular group of cicadas, called Periodical cicadas, come out of the ground every 17 years and this is our lucky year. They should begin emerging in mid to late May, appearing in Central and Southwest Ohio and west through Indiana. In addition, they will also emerge in Eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland. We last encountered this brood in 2004, when as many as 10 trillion cicadas emerged from the ground.
Every 17 years, Brood X cicadas dig their way out of the ground, climbing tree trunks, shedding their shells, and getting their wings ready to fly.
We will see and hear the Cicadas for a few weeks. Over those weeks, you will likely encounter cicadas just about everywhere. From tree trunks, to your car, to the ground beneath your feet. You’ll see these unique bugs and their discarded skin all around. These loud critters can also have an impact on outdoor events. The collective noise made by male cicadas calling for mates can reach up to 100 decibels. That’s as loud as a jackhammer, except instead of it ever getting turned off, it will go on for weeks.
Although the idea of billions or trillions of cicadas may not sound too enticing, it is important to remember that this is a unique natural event. Entomologist have been trying to understand what makes an insect bury itself in the ground and emerge every 17 years? This has been happening for several hundred years. The earliest written documentation in the U.S. was in 1715. This is one of the largest broods of cicadas in existence, and when you think about it that way, it makes the idea of running around through all of the bugs a little more bearable.
The good news is, these cicadas are not harmful to humans. They do not bite, or sting and they prefer to be outside, rarely entering your home. In addition, they cause little harm to mature plants and trees. They can cause some cosmetic damage to younger trees when they lay their eggs in tree branches. However, they actually provide a number of benefits to nature. Cicadas can serve as food for many animals, including birds, reptiles, snakes and even spiders. When underground, the nymphs construct tunnels that help to aerate the soil and allow for tree roots to get more access to nutrients and oxygen for growth.
After buzzing around, making lots of noise and mating for several weeks, the females will lay their eggs in trees, and the adults die off. The eggs will hatch in 6-8 weeks and the young make their way to the ground, burrowing to safety amongst the tree roots… where they’ll remain until they re-emerge in 2038.
Curious to learn more? Give our office a call!