Brood X cicadas make their 17-year appearance in May and everybody’s excited

Written by on March 22, 2021

 Brood X cicadas make their 17-year appearance in May and everybody’s excited

By Megan Frank

March 22, 2021

Image by parlansky from Pixabay

This May, millions of cicadas, known as Brood X will emerge from the ground and climb trees looking for mates.

They only do it every 17 years.

Listen to the story.

When the next generation of periodical cicadas emerge this spring, they’ll sound different from annual cicadas. The pitch of their song will be higher. But it’ll still be loud, up to 90 decibels which is about the same as a shouted conversation.

Heather Leach, an entomologist with the Penn State Extension program, says the all-male chorus “sings” to attract mates.

“They have these kinds of devices that they can strike together to make those noises. They come out and emerge, feed, mate and then they die. And in that time they’ll be a huge feast for Mother Nature,” Leach says. 

There’s a lot of interest in the bug’s emergence this year, Leach says. 

“There’s so much biomass emerging from the soil, coming out as cicadas, and then dying. So, you’ll see a feast by birds, by all sorts of animals, like foxes. Everybody comes out to eat these cicadas. So it’s a big excitement for not just us, but the natural world as well,” she says. 

The noise won’t last all summer and you won’t see them anywhere else: adult cicadas only have a lifespan of about four to six weeks and they’re found nowhere else on the planet except the eastern half of North America.

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