Billions of cicadas will invade the United States this summer

Billions of cicadas are poised to emerge in parts of the United States in quantities not seen in decades or even centuries, experts say, reports Sky News.

While annual cicadas, larger and greener than their black-bodied cousins, are found all over the world, periodical cicadas, black in color and with red eyes protruding from the eye sockets, are found only in North America.

Residents of Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina… the southeastern United States are preparing to experience an extremely rare moment as two broods of periodical cicadas – XIII and XIX – will emerge at the same time. The first appears every 17 years and the second, “historically abundant,” emerges every 13 years, according to University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raup.

Double attack

This simultaneous emergence of periodical cicadas, known for their noise (their hum can reach 110 decibels), is a rare occurrence. University of Connecticut entomologist John Cooley called the ensuing invasion duel “cicada-Geddon”, referring to Armageddon.

Paula Shrewsbury, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, cautioned that a simultaneous brood cycle is a rare occurrence that will result in “more cicadas being produced than anywhere else at any other time.”

Saad Bhamla, a biophysicist at Georgia Tech, explains that it’s “billions of these amazing living organisms coming out of the earth, climbing the trees and it’s just a unique experience, a sight to behold.” “It’s as if a whole alien species lives under our feet and then, for a few years, it comes out to say hello,” he adds.

Looking for trees to lay eggs

According to researchers at the University of Connecticut, cicadas will cover an area the size of the state of Delaware this year.

“By 2024 (…) it is clear that billions of adult cicadas will be present – but not all in the same place at the same time,” the researchers write.

Periodical cicadas seek vegetation around mature trees, where they can mate and lay eggs, then move underground to feast on their roots.

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