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Brood X: Billions of cicadas are popping up after 17 years underground

Movies about invading insects have scared moviegoers for decades. But now, a real insect invasion of what is called periodic cicadas will embarrass Hollywood with its sheer size and scope.

Over the next few weeks along the East Coast and Midwest, the cicadas will emerge from the ground, shed their skins and participate in a month-long mating ritual, making a whole scene – climbing trees and singing mating songs as high as 100 decibels, the same intensity like a jackhammer.

“It’s a pretty big event. I mean, we’re talking about trillions of cicadas that have to show up, sing, call and find helpers in your backyard,”

; Dr. Jessica Ware, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, told meteorologist and CBS News climate specialist Jeff Berardelli.

There are over a dozen known kikasters in the United States categorized by when they come together from the ground. Brood X is considered one of the largest and looks like a clockwork every 17 years.

“I do not think it is that the cicadas themselves know anything. I think part of it is firmly wired. So there are a number of biochemical cascades, you know, hormones that rise and fall that trigger a And if you have a certain hormone level and the temperature on Earth is 64 degrees, it’s time, ”said Ware.

Once the cicadas show up, time is not on their side. Ware said they have a “short watch” – about three or four weeks to find a spouse and lay their eggs before they die.

“If you spend your entire youth stage, 17 years underground, and then you have three or four weeks to do all the jobs,” she said.

What is exciting about cicadas can be scary for some people. But Ware said not to worry: they do not bite or sting.

“They actually do no harm to humans. They do not even do as much harm to your garden,” Ware said. “Their goal is really to find each other, to mate and then create the next generations of cicadas.”

Although they do not pose a threat to us, humans pose a threat to them. Urban sprawl and overdevelopment have destroyed entire cicada populations. And because of the warming climate, periodic cicadas occur anywhere from a week to a month earlier than just decades ago. Ware said it may even shorten the number of years they remain underground.


But on a more positive note, the cicadas become a feast for many of nature’s other creatures, even some brave humans.

“They’re a great source of protein, you know? I’m excited to eat some cicadas. I think it’s a beautiful bounty. A cornucopia, a food source,” Ware said.

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