Eastern and Central United States Braces for Emergence of Brood X Cicadas Swards

In a few weeks, billions of cicadas will emerge in record numbers for the first time in 17 years. 

This massive group of cicadas are called Brood X, and they emerge from underground once every 17 years to mate. Last time the world saw cicadas, the 2004 Summer Olympics were underway, George W. Bush was fighting for a second term and Facebook was brand new. 

“They’re in the dark, they’re feeding on roots, just living their best lives until the time is right,” said Matt Kasson, an associate professor at West Virginia University who studies cicadas and the fungi that immobilize them. “And that’s when they decide, you know what, it may be time to go up and find a partner.” 

Beginning in late April or May, once the ground is around 64 degrees, billions of Brood X cicadas will be seen across the United States, from Illinois to the west, Georgia to the south and New York to the northeast. Maryland is said to be the epicenter of it all. 

The young cicadas, called “nymphs,” emerge from the ground and shed their skin one last time before transforming into adults. After their transformation, they only have a few weeks to mate before they die. There are seven total species of North American periodical cicadas, four species live on a 13-year cycle and three live for 17 years. 

This year, all three 17-year-cycle cicadas will emerge. 

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