Every few decades, there is a bug that comes literally out from under the ground. Though they are completely harmless, they can make as much noise as a garbage truck passing by and can be a disturbance to many homeowners. Cicadas are found mostly in the southern states—including North Carolina— and can be heard constantly throughout the day and night.
There are 20 types of “broods” of cicadas that appear in the millions. According to Frank A. Hale, professor at The University of Tennessee, “There are three 13-year cicada broods (XIX, XXII and XXIII), and 12 of the 17-year cicada broods (I-X, XIII, and XIV)” (Periodical Cicadas). Brood XIX comes out every 13 years while Brood X comes out every 17 years. What this means is, when it is the 13th or 17th year, these cicadas emerge from underneath the ground where they’ve been living and feeding off of tree roots and live outside solely for the purpose of reproducing.
While alive, these cicadas will live in trees, bushes, and anywhere they can find nutrients. The males will try to attract the female cicadas by rubbing their wings together next to their hollow abdomens creating a creaking sound loud enough to reach almost 100 decibels! With millions of males aiming to attract a female, there will only be millions born. Once impregnated, female cicadas will create divots in tree branches and lay her eggs there. After they’ve reproduced, they will die within 4-6 weeks after along with the male cicadas. Then, once these cicadas have hatched, they will jump from these tree branches and burrow into the ground only to wait another 13 – 17 years to crawl back out.
Brood X (or “Brood 10”) comes out every 17 years. This year (2021), this brood will make their appearance. While there are preventative measures to take such as ensuring your home is sealed around door frames and windows, the number of cicadas is too great to completely make certain your home is cicada-free. Luckily, their lifespan outside of the ground lasts only a few short weeks. There will be millions of cicadas in North Carolina this year, and we can expect the next wave of Brood X almost two decades from now. This truly is a unique moment in time!
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Cicadas, facts and photos. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/facts/cicadas