Brood X return after 17 years underground

Seventeen years of being underground, 2021 marks the year cicadas return

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Tracy Lee

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Sara Good, Writer

This spring marks the beginning of a huge emergence of cicadas that only come around once every 17 years. This group of cicadas are named Brood X and they will be around for six weeks.

These cicadas don’t emerge everywhere. They occur mainly in New York, Illinois, Northern Georgia and then spots in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Saucon Valley is within one of the spots in Pennsylvania, which means we will get to experience the influx.

Cicadas migrate underground for typically 13 years, but this group of cicadas stay under for 17 years. This group is one of the largest groups of cicadas to emerge, as billions of cicadas will come out. They will emerge when the soil hits a temperature of about 64 degrees, so around the first or second day when it’s 80 degrees outside.

When the cicadas emerge they will leave dime sized holes in the ground and will start to look to mate. The males move to the tops of trees and let out loud mating calls that can reach up to 100 decibels if standing directly under a tree filled with cicadas.

Standing under a tree filled with cicadas is the equivalent to a motorcycle. Being exposed to that noise level for a long period of time (about 50 minutes) could actually harm your hearing.

The cicadas aren’t dangerous to humans and won’t damage anything in the environment, minus where the female cicadas lay their eggs in trees. If anything, these cicadas are big and awkward when flying around, but they won’t bite you.

After the cicadas have mated, the female cicadas will lay hundreds of eggs in thin tree branches. When these eggs hatch, nymphs the size of grains of rice will fall off and burrow into the ground where they will feed off of the tree roots. They will stay there for the next seventeen years starting the process once again.