Tips&TricksUS braces for rare double cicada swarms not seen since 1803

US braces for rare double cicada swarms not seen since 1803

Cicada invasion in the USA.
Cicada invasion in the USA.
Images source: © Getty Images | rbmiles
8:27 AM EST, February 27, 2024

Billions of cicadas will emerge onto the surface of North America come early April, creating awe-inducing scenes of natural wonder. Despite the overwhelming numbers, cicadas pose no threat to us. They are harmless, and the spectacle they present is nothing short of a marvel of nature. The last occurrence of a phenomenon like this was more than 221 years ago.

Understanding cicadas and how to identify them

Cicadas, named so due to the prominent sounds they produce, are more often heard than seen. Their symphony is usually performed during the day in areas abundant with trees and shrubs. Resembling flies and fairly inconspicuous, they usually populate warm countries. They feed primarily on fruits, plants, and cereal seeds and pose no threat to humans as they do not bite.

While cicadas reproduce without much difficulty, out of more than 200 species globally, only nine are perennial, with seven native to North America. They burrow in the earth through winter and reemerge from April to June. This year in the United States, we witness a unique phenomenon where brood XIII, which appears every 17 years, and brood XIX, which emerges every 13 years, will swarm simultaneously. This indicates an impending invasion of several billion insects.

Cicadas set to swarm the United States

The last occurrence of such a phenomenon was back in 1803, when North America experienced a sudden swarm of several billion insects. This year, those residing in the Midwest, the South, and the Southwest can anticipate a similar spectacle. The swarms will be prevalent from April until June, after which the cicadas will begin to disperse. Nature observers may find this an interesting opportunity to witness cicadas in their natural environments, even though it might not be a pleasing sight for everyone.

In preparation for this swarming event, residents have started gathering resources to secure their homes and gardens. Protective nets are being installed on windows and doors to prevent the cicadas from getting indoors. Gardeners resort to natural sprays to safeguard their crops from these foraging insects without harming other microorganisms. Another natural deterrent involves inviting birds into gardens. As natural predators, birds will not pass up an opportunity to feast on the cicadas.

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