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Billions of cicadas to emerge in the United States “in the largest invasion in centuries”

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Billions of cicadas are poised to emerge in parts of the United States, in numbers not seen in decades, if not centuries.

The inhabitants of the southeast WE are set for a “show to behold,” experts say, as periodical cicadas – which typically surface every 13 years – will emerge coinciding with another brood that comes out in a 17-year cycle this spring.

While annual cicadas, which are larger and greener than their black-bodied cousins, can be found all over the world, periodical bugs, which are black in color and have bulging red eyes, can only be found in South America. North.

The double emergence of periodical cicadas, infamous for their noise, is a rare phenomenon and its last appearance is estimated to have occurred 221 years ago, in 1803, when Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the America, was president of the United States.

John Cooley, a cicada expert at the University of Connecticut, called the upcoming dueling invasion “cicada-geddon.”

Sometimes confused with crickets, the insects’ buzzing can reach a volume of 110 decibels.

“Periodical cicadas are not subtle,” Mr. Cooley said.

Brood X cicadas. Archive photo: Reuters
Picture:
Brood X cicadas. Archive photo: Reuters

There are already clear signs of the coming occupation of the Brood XIXs – the cicadas that emerge every 13 years – as they have formed boreholes in Georgia’s red clay.

As the species with the widest geographic distribution, population XIX is distributed throughout the Midwest, including Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana, as well as throughout the Southeast in smaller sections of the Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland, according to National Geographic.

Shortly after their emergence, cicadas from a different population, Brood XIII, will surface in Illinois.

Population XIII only emerges every 17 years and, according to entomologist Mike Raupp of the University of Maryland, is “historically abundant.”

Brood cycles that emerge at the same time are a rare event that will result in more cicadas being produced “than anywhere else at any other time,” said Paula Shrewsbury, an entomologist at the University of Maryland.

Saad Bhamla, a biophysicist at Georgia Tech, said: “Billions of these amazing living organisms are coming out of the earth, climbing trees and it’s just a unique experience, a sight to see.

“It’s as if an entire alien species lives under our feet and then, for a few years, it comes out to say hello.”

According to researchers at the University of Connecticut, cicadas will cover such a large territory this year that it will be equal to the size of the US state of Delaware.

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“If we accept an estimate of one million cicadas per acre and if the total combined area of ​​a periodic cicada emergence is roughly the size of Delaware, then over a trillion cicadas will be involved,” we read in the research.

“For 2024, as cicadas emerge from Maryland to Oklahoma to Illinois to Alabama, it is clear that billions of adult cicadas will be present – ​​but not all in the same place at the same time.”

Periodical cicadas seek out vegetation surrounding mature trees, where they can mate and lay eggs, then go underground to feast on their roots, said Mount St. Joseph University biologist Gene Kritsky, an expert on cicadas. who wrote a book on the double emergence of this year.

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