The Week (US)

Get ready for a noisy cicada summer


After 17 years of undergroun­d hibernatio­n, trillions of cicadas are starting to hatch across the East Coast and Midwest—and the noise is going to be cacophonou­s. Brood X, which will emerge in 15 states stretching from Tennessee to New York, is one of 15 periodical broods in the U.S. Unlike annual cicadas, which appear in small groups, these chunky, 1½-inch-long insects draw strength from numbers. Swarming out en masse gives the bugs an advantage against their many predators— birds, lizards, raccoons, snakes, and even domestic cats and dogs will eat them—and increases the odds that enough will survive to produce the next generation. Once the cicadas have pushed their way above ground, they shed their nymphal exoskeleto­n to become winged adults and then go on the hunt for mates. Males try to find a partner by thrumming a love song that can be louder than a leaf blower. After four to six weeks of chirping and mating, the exhausted adult bugs die, carpeting the ground with their rather stinky carcases. Meanwhile, the eggs they have laid in trees will hatch and the nymphs will drop to the ground, burrow into the soil, and spend the next 17 years sucking on nutritious tree roots. Although some people are terrified of these red-eyed bugs, cicadas are utterly harmless. “They really can’t hurt you,” biologist Martha Weiss tells “They want to sing, mate, have babies, and then they’re going to be gone.”

 ??  ?? Louder than a leaf blower and looking for love
Louder than a leaf blower and looking for love

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