Science

After 17 years underground, an army of cicadas is about to emerge

2020 is probably not the year we had in mind, but for some creatures on the planet it is exactly the long-awaited moment to emerge after almost 20 years underground. Summer is already looming, and that will be the moment when an army of cicadas disembarks in the United States.

To be more exact, this group of insects of the genus Magicicada is already beginning to appear in several states on the East Coast: Northwest North Carolina, Southwest Virginia, and Southeast West Virginia.

As for the invasion, there is no need to fear. These are harmless insects that are only a few months old (although they are very noisy). Most of them spend it as nymphs in the ground, sucking the sap from the roots of the trees. Then, as the weather warms up in its seventeenth year, it’s the signal to break the surface, scale a tree or other vertical surface, and dump its immature exoskeletons.

The large, dark insect that emerges is the cicada with which most people are familiar. After a few months of flying, mating, and filling the forest with their deafening songs , adult cicadas die in late summer.

Experts say that different cicada hatchlings follow different timelines, and 2020 is the year the new generation of so-called Brood IX makes its debut. The group is estimated to comprise nearly 1.5 million insects, when the ground warms to the required point in mid-May, although due to the recent cold climate in the mid-Atlantic, cicadas may arrive later than usual.

As for the deafening sound, they are considered some of the loudest insects on Earth. The reason is due to male cicadas looking for a mate, and the sound can go as high as 100 decibels.

Instead, cicadas are also beneficial to ecosystems. Its appearance in the soil  increases  the flowers and fruits in later years. 

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