Here Come the 17-Year Cicadas: Photos
Northeastern states will soon be alive with the alien-like sounds of billions of cicadas that have waited 17 years for their moment in the sun.
This week we
that Northeastern states will soon be crawling, or buzzing, with insects that have waited a long time to come up into the sunlight: 17-year cicadas.
The bugs that nor'easterners will see, starting next month, were born way back in 1999, tucked away for all of this time just a couple of feet underground, at the end of a century when people were freaking out about Y2K and how to live without Seinfeld on Thursday nights.
Periodical cicadas, as their known, come in two versions: 13-year and 17-year. There are seven species of them and, different from all other types of cicada, the periodicals develop and die together
-- each with the same birth and death year. They're in a pretty cool-sounding genus, too:
The cicadas coming next month are comprised of three different species and are collectively called Brood V. They're not locusts, by the way. Locusts and cicadas are in entirely separate taxonomic orders.
The nymphs will begin to emerge from their underground lairs once the soil temperature, to about half a foot down, reaches 64 degrees F. Once that happens, it's going to be a veritable cicada-palooza. In some places, they'll be as thick as 1.5 million bugs per acre.
Once topside, the nymphs will move to some nearby vegetation so they can commence becoming grown-ups, molting their way to adulthood. The critters are single-minded, hard-wired with only one thing in mind: mating. It's "reproduce and die" for periodical cicadas. People in 17-year-cicada country this summer will soon grow used to the insects' spooky mating calls, which sound like 1950s Sci-Fi movie spaceships. After mating, the females deposit groups of about 20 eggs inside cutouts in twigs. In total, each mom will leave more than 600 eggs to the world
will soon leave.
Such a short, hopefully happy, life it will be for them! The cicadas will live for only a few weeks. They are typically dead by the middle of July.
Come the end of the cicada invasion, these discarded exoskeletons will be on sidewalks, in driveways, and seemingly everywhere one might possibly set foot. Crunch! Meanwhile, the new nymphs born from this cycle -- hatched from their eggs and fallen to the ground -- will burrow down into the earth, where they will begin their own 17-year wait to emerge. Good luck, in advance, little newbies. See you in 2033!