Millions Of Cicadas To Emerge In US After Lurking Underground For 17 Years

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 22 May 2020 16:59
Millions Of Cicadas To Emerge In US After Lurking Underground For 17 YearsBrian1442/Wikimedia/Pixabay

What a year 2020 has been so far. We’ve had the Australian bushfires, we’re currently in the midst of a global health crisis and soon, millions of insects will be swarming their way through American soil.

For real. Parts of the US are set to see the return of millions of cicadas of the genus Magicicada, which have been living underground for a whopping 17 years.


According to entomologist Gene Kritsky, the appearance of these creatures are ‘generational events’ and you may only see one of these events in your lifetime.

‘Many people use the emergence to mark the passage of time, recall key events in their lives and just remember where they were and what they were doing the last time the cicadas came out,’ she told the Register Herald, via IFL Science.

Kritsky has developed an app that allows her to track cicadas, therefore allowing them to predict the appearance of ‘brood XI’, which haven’t been seen since 2003.


Young cicada larvae can need from anywhere between one year and 17 years to mature into adults underground. However, their life cycle is still somewhat of a mystery to biological scientists.


The cicadas remain buried in the soil during their maturation stage, and when they are finally ready to breed and lay their own eggs they tend to emerge when the soil warms up, which usually takes place in May. They continue to emerge through into June, and when they finally reach the surface they shed their undercoat and are on a mission to find a partner.

Sadly, they only have a life expectancy of around four to eight weeks, and so time really is of the essence when it comes to finding a partner.


So, as brood XI prepares to emerge, south-west Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia could all be in for a noisy few weeks, because the male cicadas sing in a bid to attract females. Adding to that, periodical cicadas are one of the loudest insects on Earth, and can successfully create a vibration sound reaching higher than 90 decibels – the level of a lawnmower.

With around 1.5 million cicadas expected to emerge per acre in these particular states, you can’t even imagine the level of noise that is about to descend. But with these events being so rare, it will be an incredible sight to see (and hear).

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Animals, Insects, North Carolina, Virginia


IFC Science
  1. IFC Science

    After A 17-Year Siesta, Millions Of Cicadas Are About To Emerge In Parts Of The US