Billions of cicadas to emerge this season

Brood II cicadas are easily recognizable with black bodies, red eyes and orange wings. Experts say they will be visible on trees, bushes, houses and even car tires. (Amy White & Al Petteway/National Geographic/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – The loud hissing of the Brood II cicada will soon be heard along the East Coast, from New York to Georgia. The sound is the mating call of the species.

Billions of cicadas have been developing underground since around 1996, and they are now tunneling their way out.

“It’s a safety in numbers game,” says Michael Raupp, professor of entomology at University of Maryland. “They simply emerge in such numbers that they overwhelm the appetites of all the animals that want to eat them.”

Brood II cicadas are easily recognizable with black bodies, red eyes and orange wings. Experts say they will be visible on trees, bushes, houses and even car tires.

“Even though the predators eat their fill, there will still be enough cicadas left to carry on to the next generation,” Raupp says.

Around the D.C. area, the insects will be most prevalent in the suburbs. Scientists are asking the public to report cicada sightings on a cicada tracker website so they can be closely monitored.

“Certainly by Memorial Day here in the Washington metropolitan region, we will begin to hear reports, Raupp explains.”

Cicadas do not sting or bite, and they are not harmful to crops. The onslaught of the insects simply serves as a period during which they reproduce.

The next generation will emerge from the ground in 2030.

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