While not as issue for New England states, a 17-year cicada cycle will conclude in May when billions of cicadas emerge from the earth. The three affected eastern U.S. epicenters are in Washington, D.C. and surrounding suburbs, Indiana, and Knoxville, Tennessee. Don’t make the common mistake of confusing cicadas with locusts. Locusts are a species of grasshopper. They’ll be around from mid to late May until mid to late June.
The map shows where the 17-year cicadas will emerge in the U.S. in May of 2021:
What are 17-Year Periodical Cicadas?
This population, or “brood”, is called Brood X. These cicadas are called Periodical Cicadas and spend almost all their lives underground. After 17 years of development, nymphs emerge from the soil. They crawl up on surfaces to shed their exoskeletons and reach the adult stage. There can be up to a million cicadas per acre in the most densely populated areas. New adults harden in hours and then begin searching for a mate.
Because periodical cicadas emerge in such large numbers every 17 years, they assure their survival. No predator is capable of eating billions of cicadas.
Cicadas are associated with their loud sound, which is the shrill mating call of the male cicada. A swarm of cicadas can produce sounds up to 120 decibels. That’s even louder than a rock concert, which generates about 115 dB of sound.
Are Cicadas Dangerous?
Cicadas are about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches in length with big, prominent red eyes, short antennae, and long, clear wings. While large and somewhat scary looking, cicadas don’t pose a threat to people or pets. They cannot bite or sting. However, the egg-laying of female cicadas can damage shrubs and small trees. Insecticides are ineffective against cicadas. Small trees, shrubs, and ponds can be covered and protected from the damage of egg-laying and decomposing cicadas.
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