Millions of Cicadas to emerge from the ground after 17 years underground

Up to 1.5 million of these insects can emerge per 0.4 hectares. The reason for this phenomenon is still unknown to scientists.
Up to 1.5 million of these insects can emerge per 0.4 hectares. The reason for this phenomenon is still unknown to scientists.

As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with the giant killer hornets invading the U.S. and a global pandemic, millions of cicadas will emerge from the ground this year after 17 years underground.

Up to 1.5 million cicadas per acre (0.4 hectares) can emerge, and people living in southwest Virginia, parts of North Carolina, and West Virginia could witness this unique phenomenon, Virginia Tech said in a press release.

Fortunately, cicadas are harmless to humans. At most, the noise they make could become a nuisance.

“Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas that emerge at the same time can have a substantial noise problem,” said Eric Day, an entomologist for Virginia Cooperative Extension at the Virginia Tech Department of Entomology.

“Fortunately, any inconvenience from the disturbance is mitigated by how rare and surprising this event is.”

However, they are a danger to orchids, vines and trees due to the spawning habits of their females.

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“Cicadas can occur in overwhelming numbers and producers in planned areas of activity should be vigilant,” said Doug Pfeiffer, professor and extension specialist at Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology.

Cicadas are large insects with clear wings that appear annually or periodically. It’s a mystery why periodic cicadas only emerge every 13 or 17 years, but there’s a theory that it’s to avoid synchronizing with predator cycles.