Brood of cicadas returning to NY/NJ area for the first time in 17 years

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One of the millions of periodical cicadas in the area clings to a leaf on Saturday, June 1, 2019 after it emerged from a 17-year hibernation in Zelienople, Pa. The insects come out of the ground once the temperature reaches optimum, then climb into trees and make a droning sound to attract mates to breed. Their activity will peak between mid-May and mid-June, and then die off about four weeks after first emerging according to the Department of Agriculture web page. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

NEW YORK — A noisy type of cicadas known as “Brood X” will be returning to the New York and New Jersey area for the first time in 17 years this summer.

The cicadas, known as brood X for the Roman numeral for 10, will begin appearing in May and staying until mid-June, numbering potentially in the billions, according to the Associated Press. This is part of their normal life cycle, according to Dr. George Hamilton, head of the entomology department’s graduate program at Rutgers University.

“When the adults emerge they mate and females lay eggs in the slits the cut in the terminal ends of small branches,” Dr. Hamilton said. “When they hatch, the larvae drop to the ground, bore into the soil and feed on tree roots for the next 17 years.”

The juveniles have been in the soil, feeding on tree roots in the intervening period and are scheduled to appear soon.

They are described as 2-3 inches in length with blueish black bodies, red eyes and reddish-orange veins in their wings. They will also be very noisy for the few weeks they’ll be here.

Other than this, the main problems may be for locals who have those sorts of trees where the cicadas lay eggs.

“In areas where they emerge, homeowners with small woody plants or trees should cover them to prevent the egg-laying damage,” Dr. Hamilton said.

Otherwise, the only other problems come with the noise, although people will see them and people may be startled by them. If people disturb them, they’ll fly away.

You’ll want to see them and document them now. According to the University of Connecticut, the next broods of cicadas slated to appear in this area won’t be until 2024. Brood X, of course, likely won’t be seen again until 2038, though the altering climate could change that.

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