523710176

Photo by: Carl & Ann Purcell

Carl & Ann Purcell

Meet Brood X: Billions of Cicadas Emerging Soon Within Eastern U.S.

Do you hear it? If you live in the Eastern U.S., it's likely the noisy entrance of the cicadas from Brood X as they emerge for the first time in 17 years.

April 22, 2021

The biggest red carpet since 2004 is rolling its way down the Eastern United States, where some will be lucky to catch an eye at the billions of cicadas that will soon be appearing from beneath the soil. The cicada insect is part of a group which stems from the “Great Eastern Brood,” commonly referred to as “Brood X” meaning they’re expected in geographic regions from Tennessee to New York, according to CNN. And don’t worry, east coasters, cicadas are not harmful to humans or animals (phew!).

1129977190

Photo by: Philippe Lebeaux / 500px

Philippe Lebeaux / 500px

Cicadas, specifically part of Brood X have been living a “subterranean” life for 17 years. Kritsky, author of the new book "Periodical Cicadas: The Brood X Edition explained, “Brood X — the "X" is the Roman numeral for 10 — is the largest group of 17-year-cicadas. (Other periodical cicada groups emerge on a 13-year-cycle.)” As soon as they reach the Earth’s surface, it’s game on for finding a mate. The male cicadas create a loud buzzing noise (otherwise known to humans as a song) by flexing their drum-like organ called a tymbal. When enough are around and in sight, most refer to the cicada calls as similar to a chorus!

Entomologist Eric Day, of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University extension has made it clear that this “unusual biological phenomenon” is something many won’t want to miss. Surprisingly, periodical cicadas are only found in the Eastern United States and they typically die four to six weeks post-appearance.

When does the show start, you might ask? As soon as the soil reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit and, depending on the geographic region, the first or second week of May. Scientists and entomologists alike are unsure of the specific purposes of the cicada schedules or why they have “prime-numbered life spans.” Luckily, the emergence of Brood X is quite large and aids the insects in surviving predation and successful mating. Brood X stands out among other broods in the fact that their appearances are commonly found to be within vicinities of large metropolitan areas. "About 35 million Americans will have the opportunity to interact with Brood X," Kritsky said. Early signs of their emergence can be seen by finger-size holes in the ground near the base of trees or a “chimney-like tunnel” appearing from the soil.

Larva of cicada emerging from earth in morning in Kyoto

882221072

Larva of cicada emerging from earth in morning in Kyoto

Photo by: Eriko Koga

Eriko Koga


For those who would like to catch a glimpse at this phenomenon, cicadas can be found in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Cicadas: An Early Invasion

Match point, 2020. Early cicadas are here to ruin your quiet outdoor moments.

Next Up

Latest COVID-19 Ruling is Terrible News for the Planet

Companies do not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus epidemic, the Environmental Protection Agency has said, in a move that could have deadly impacts on the planet.

Climate Week 2021 Shines a Light on the Climate Crisis

Every September since 2009, Climate Week coincides with the UN General Assembly in New York City. Action is required to halt and attempt to reverse the rapid and catastrophic deterioration of the world's climate. The planet is in crisis and this year The Explorers Club is spotlighting experts in the field to bring awareness to how we can create the change we need to improve the future of the planet.

Zoo Miami Tests Gorilla for COVID

Zoo Miami is taking every precaution to protect its gorilla population from COVID-19.

Scientists in Antarctica Get the Giggles from Penguin Waste

King penguin poop is causing some issues for scientists in Antarctica. This flightless bird's guano releases nitrous oxide, a gas that is known commonly as laughing gas.

California’s Ocean is Neon - and It’s All Natural!

The California coastline is glowing and it’s not a trick of the imagination. Nature is putting on a show and it’s all thanks to some of the smallest organisms on the planet.

Take a Safari at Home

The San Diego Zoo is streaming some of their awesome animals-- LIVE!

An Underwater Adventure From the Comfort of Your Couch

The Georgia Aquarium is live streaming from some of their epic habitats!

How the West Coast’s Wildfires Could Irrevocably Change Wildlife

Wildfires have swept across the West Coast of America this year with devastating consequences. Burning millions of acres of land in their wake, the fires have not just wreaked havoc on forests, but could have a long-lasting impact on numerous wildlife species too.

Fossils Found Under Greenland’s Ice Sheet

Leaf and twig fossils are discovered to be “perfectly preserved” under Greenland’s ice sheet, fascinating scientists and leading to further discovery.

Environmentalists Who Changed (and Continue to Change) the World

Here are five women who made it their life's mission to make the world a better place through environmental activism.