NewsDual cicada broods set to engulf US in rare natural symphony

Dual cicada broods set to engulf US in rare natural symphony

Illinois will be hit by a plague of insects.
Illinois will be hit by a plague of insects.
Images source: © Getty Images | Scott Olson
10:54 AM EDT, April 3, 2024

For the first time in over 220 years, this spring, two groups of cicadas will emerge simultaneously. Trillions of these locust-like insects will erupt from the earth, engulfing the United States.

Unlike their annual counterparts, periodical cicadas spend 13 to 17 years developing underground before briefly appearing above ground. Typically, insects from different broods do not emerge concurrently in the same region. However, this season will be an exception.

US to be overwhelmed by cicadas

This spring, the 13-year cycle group, Brood XIX, will align with the 17-year cycle group, Brood XIII. Scientists predict that while cicadas from these two broods are unlikely to interbreed, their swarms will partially overlap. Consequently, starting mid-May, a staggering number of insects will swarm places, including Illinois, a phenomenon last witnessed in 1803.
Biophysicist Saad Bhamla speaks of trillions of organisms surfacing from below. Allen Lawrence, Deputy Curator of Entomology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, describes it as a massive, yet peaceful, invasion. The next occurrence isn't anticipated until 2076.
Experts are advising Americans to safeguard their ears against the noise. Usually, cicadas rank among the loudest insects on the planet. The noise level from the group that remains underground the longest can reach an average of 110 dB. "It's akin to placing your head next to a jet engine," says John Cooley, an expert from the University of Connecticut.
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