523710176

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

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.

882221072

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

Wildfire Destruction Amplified by Fire Tornadoes

Escalating temperatures and high winds come together in late summer to create the perfect firestorm. For the past several weeks, wildfires have been plaguing the western United States and there is one additional red flag - tornadoes.

Zoo Miami Tests Gorilla for COVID

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

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.

California Wildfires: The Aftermath

After the devastating Lake Fire in California, nature photographer and conservationist Ian Shive ventured out to document the devastation firsthand.

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.

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.

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.

The Battle to Save California Mountain Lions

California is considering protecting mountain lions in certain parts of the state through the Endangered Species Act – but not everyone is happy about it.

Rediscovered in Ocean's Twilight Zone: the Short-Nosed Sea Snake

The short-nosed sea snake was recently rediscovered in the ocean’s twilight zone, 200 feet below the surface. Scientists are furthering their research with genetic testing.

Clear Skies During Lockdown is a Pandemic Upside

With almost all of the world under lockdown, cars are off the roads and the smog is disappearing in some of the planet’s most polluted atmospheres.