Last April, billions of cicadas called Brood X reportedly emerged from the ground in more than fifteen states of the United States after 17 years’ absence.
According to The Washington Post, entomologists studying insects predict that billions of cicadas will appear throughout the United States this summer. They predict that Brood X cicadas will flock to 15 states, including Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Washington by May.
Brood X is a type of periodical cicada that emerges from the ground every 17 years. It is also called the “Brood 10” or “X-species cicada.” Unlike ordinary cicadas, it is characterized by a black body with red eyes and orange wings. The larvae of these cicadas grow underground by eating sap from tree roots. The period before coming up from the ground is determined by detecting seasonal changes in plants. Unlike ordinary cicadas, millions of them come out of their eggs at the same time, so the whole region is covered with cicadas.
The problem is the noise of the cicadas’ cries. After completing their growth, cicadas focus on mating and laying eggs for two months, so the males’ crying to attract females reaches the level of noise pollution. According to entomologist Jonathan Larson at the University of Kentucky, the Brood X males’ maximum crying recorded in the past was 105db, close to the sound of a car engine. Cicadas that cry all night make it difficult for residents to sleep and to have casual conversations. A swarm of cicadas may surprise drivers or injure trees and crops.
It is not harmful to people at all, however. Entomologists describe the emergence of the Brood X cicadas as a blessing to the ecosystem. This is because the rise of cicadas, which are at the bottom of the food chain, means increased food for higher predators. “When they come out, it’s a great sign that forests are in good shape. All is as it is supposed to be,” said John Cooley, an ecology and evolutionary biology professor at the University of Connecticut.