Return of the Cicadas
April 7, 2021
This spring, parts of the United States will witness a rare natural event. Trillions of Brood 10 cicadas are expected to emerge in mid-May. The insects have spent 17 years underground. They will likely be around until late June or July.
The cicadas come out to mate. Across 15 states, they'll create a buzz as loud as a lawn mower. That's their mating call. It's the male cicada that makes all that noise, Michael Raupp told TIME for Kids. Raupp is an entomology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. "It's going to be a big boy band up in the treetops," he says.
Within a few weeks, the female cicadas will lay hundreds of eggs. Then, as suddenly as they appeared, the cicadas will die. "This unique event happens nowhere else on the planet," Raupp says. "The abundance of these cicadas is going to be amazing."
What's the Buzz?
Brood 10 is a family of periodical cicadas. That means the insects come out every once in a while instead of every year or few years.
The cicadas emerge when soil temperatures reach 64°F. They crawl out from under the ground and fly up into trees. If you're standing outside, one might land on you. But don't worry: Cicadas aren't dangerous. The insects don't bite or sting. They might just give you a friendly little poke.
Up in the trees, female cicadas lay their eggs. Then the insects fall to the ground and die. About six weeks later, the eggs develop into nymphs, or young insects. They tumble out of the trees and dig themselves into the earth. That's where they'll spend the next 17 years, feeding on root sap until they're ready to come out again.
Raupp says it's a drama you just can't miss. "There's going to be birth. There's going to be death. There's going to be predation . There's going to be romance. There are going to be songs," he says. "Just go out and enjoy these things. This is only going to happen a handful of times in your lifetime."