You’ve probably heard it on the news about the emergence of Brood X Cicadas making their debut. You also might be wondering what the buzz is all about?
If you’re traveling along the eastern seaboard or the Midwest in the next couple of days and weeks, you will be hard pressed to find a surface that is not covered with millions, if not billions of these humming, buzzing creatures. After 17 years underground, they have begun to emerge enmass across the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Southeastern regions of the United States.
While the New England region is not within the 15 state radius where they are expected to emerge, this phenomenon is still an environmental marvel that we love to examine a bit closer in today’s blog.
What is Brood X?
According to National Geographic, there are approximately 3,000 varieties of Cicadas worldwide. Some varieties emerge every year, mate, and begin the cycle of life going from eggs to nymphs to full grown adults. After taking about 6-10 weeks for the eggs to hatch and develop into nymphs, the Cicada then burrows itself into the ground where it sucks the liquids of plant and tree roots. There the Cicadas remain until they emerge from the ground.
When they emerge depends upon what variety and region. For instance, some Cicadas emerge every year while others, like Brood X, wait 17 years in their cyclical pattern to re-emerge.
2021 marks the point in Brood X’s cycle where they come out of hiding and begin to look for a mate to start the process all over again.
What You Should Know About Brood X Cicadas
Since most of us live in Massachusetts or the New England region, we have little to worry about when it comes to these rather loud, often creepy critters that can damage trees during the egg-laying process. Here are a few facts that may help you as you watch the news or watch with wonder as the Great Eastern Brood (also known as Brood X) emerges.
- Cicadas do put stress on trees in a number of ways. First the adults eat the leaves of the trees. Thankfully, this is usually cosmetic in nature and can be remedied with pruning. However, when the females lay their eggs under the bark of a tree, twig, or branch the wood is in danger of splitting, also known as “flagging” in the arborist world. Finally, Cicada larvae tunnels into the ground and sustains itself on the juice of the roots of nearby trees and plants. This feeding process can rob a tree of its nutrients.
- Cicada sightings can be tracked on the Cicada Mapping app.
- In Brood X, only the male Cicadas can sing to attract a mate. While much of their buzzing and calls are a mystery, it is believed that the sound is produced within the membranes called tymbals, and their hollow abdomens amplify the call.
- Cicadas wait for the perfect conditions to emerge. They wait for the right conditions for breeding, which are when the ground thaws to 65°F (18°C) in a brood’s designated year. (National Geographic)
- Cicadas are referred to as different “Broods” labelled with Roman numerals. They usually emerge in intervals of 13 to 17 years. That means that most years some brood will be emerging. This year (2021) just happens to be a largely anticipated year since this 17 year periodical emergence is expected to be one of the largest in recent history.
Follow along with the news reports on where the latest Cicadas are emerging and how many they estimate to be buzzing. Just be careful, they can hit over 100 decibels as they make their calls!