Trillions of cicadas that have been underground since 2004 are about to emerge in 15 states in the U.S., and while the insects known as Brood X won’t cause humans any harm, experts say individuals in those states can plan on seeing as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre.
Brood X will be mostly concentrated in Maryland and D.C., but sightings are possible from Long Island, N.Y. to northern Georgia and Midwestern states like Indiana and Kentucky.
Brood X cicadas hibernate for 17 years and only emerge to mate, lay new eggs and then die off before the newly hatched cicadas climb back underground for another 17 years.
The Washington Post forecasts soil will reach the right temperature (approximately 64 degrees Fahrenheit) for cicada nymphs to emerge on Sunday.
A cicada tracking app created by Dr. Gene Kritsky, the dean of behavioral and natural sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Ohio, already lists more than 1,200 cicada sightings in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.
When male cicadas group together, their song can reach 105 decibels—that’s louder than a lawn mower or jackhammer.
What To Watch For
The cicadas that begin to emerge this weekend will quickly lose their brown exoskeletons and turn white before being able to fly. Male cicadas will sing to attract a mate, and the cicadas will look to take cover in the highest trees or city buildings they can find to escape predators. After the female cicadas lay new eggs, the adult cicadas will die off, and the nymphs will fall back to the ground and stay in the soil for another 17 years.
The Brood X cicadas are known for their deafening calls and bright red eyes. Their presence can be a nuisance, but scientists say people should enjoy their chance to watch nature’s show rather than take steps to kill the cicadas. Dr. Mike Raupp, a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, called the “cicada-palooza” a “great opportunity to witness a natural phenomenon.” Other broods of cicadas emerge every 13 years. Brood X cicadas usually only live for two to four weeks once they emerge, and will die-