2020 throws another curve ball! This time, the often very loud cicadas will make their appearance out of isolation. We haven’t seen this specific brood, in these specific states, in apparently 17-years, so may as well be soon since it’s 2020, the year that throws just about everything at us!
And you’ll know the bug when you hear it! It makes that very loud sounds and kids often find the shell of them on trees or other plants.
As reported by ABC News, cicadas will spring up southwest Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. Entomologists at Virginia Tech estimated that about 1.5 million cicadas would take over per acre in these areas.
It should be noted that these specific cicadas have not been present in these particular areas for almost 17 years. There are cicadas who emerge every single year, some who come out in 13 years, and some who come out in 17 years. How the bugs figure this out and sync their emergence is well above my pay-grade, but it certainly is fascinating.
Eric Day, one of the entomologists from Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology, gave statements to the news outlet. He said, “Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas emerging at once may have a substantial noise issue. Hopefully, any annoyance at the disturbance is tempered by just how infrequent and amazing this event is.”
Cicadas are not harmful to humans, but they can cause issues for plants when they lay eggs and damage the plant. The entomologists have stated that the emergence will bring forth adult female cicadas who will implant their eggs onto branches or vines that will cause them to either split and wither. This process is called “flagging” and may stunt the plants’ growth – something the farmers don’t really like.
Cicadas will emit a sound that some say resembles an “alien-like whale.” But don’t worry, that’s just the male mating call to attract female cicadas.
The species of cicadas that will emerge come from the Brood IX species. These certain species spend their lives living in the soil. They feed themselves on tree boots underground. ABC reports that a transition from “nymphs” to adults living outdoors will occur.
This transition is synchronized based on the year and the soil’s temperature. The timing of the cycle is estimated to be either 13 or 17 years according to scientists.
Research shows that the length of the brood cycle may partially depend on the cicadas avoiding predators. It is because cicadas’ emergence carries an amount of biomass that is a food source to many potential predators. This is one reason why one theory states that cicadas evolve in time-spaces, to avoid being in sync with their predators’ cycles.
Doug Pfeiffer, a professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Entomology, commented, “This insect is really fascinating, and if you don’t have fruit trees or grapevines to protect, you can enjoy this phenomenon while it lasts.”
Will the cicadas be asked to wear a mask and remain 6-feet apart? Do they really know what they’re waking up to?