The Cicadas are coming! Are you ready for the "noise?"

The Cicadas are coming! Are you ready for the “noise?”

After a 17-year hibernation, billions of Brood II cicadas are ready to re-emerge from underground and buzz their way around the East Coast sky in one of the wild’s most impressive phenomenons.


Over the next few weeks, as soil temperatures in the East reach a sustained temperature of 64 degrees, cicadas from Connecticut to North Carolina will emerge from their subterranean world for the first time since they burrowed underground as nymphs in 1996. The buzzing of males will be heard in a mating ritual that stretches back to at least the ice age. Then, within six weeks, they will all be dead, and their progeny will not be seen again until 2030.

Their buzzing can reach 90 decibels, equivalent to some power motors. They have been seen in clusters of up to 1.5 million per acre. As if from some horror movie, cicada nymphs have been described as “boiling out of the ground.” Snow shovels are sometimes employed to clear them away.

But there is no reason to fear these insects, which grow to about 1.5 inches in length, with big red compound eyes. Cicadas don’t bite. And don’t worry about your plants. They’ll be fine. There’s no need to reach for the bug spray.

The last year Brood II was seen, Bill Clinton was president, Charles and Diana agreed to divorce, the Dow Jones industrial average closed the year at just under 6,550 and the Internet was in its infancy. Now there is a network of citizen-based science groups poised to start collecting data that may help shed new light on this phenomenon. One worry is that the unyielding creep of development continues to decimate cicada habitat.

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So if you hear the buzz of the cicada, take a moment to revel in their remarkable survival strategy and marvel at what Mother Nature show us.