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Noisy Recurrence: Billions Of Cicadas Set to Emerge In May After 17-Year Cycle

Apr 18, 2016 06:15 AM EDT
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Molted Cicada Skins
Brood V cicadas are set to emerge from underground in May
(Photo : Bundschuh/Wikimedia Commons)

Mating noises of cicadas will fill up the Northeastern part of the U.S. as an estimated of billions of these insects will emerge from the ground to have a frenzy of mating and egg laying.

The cicadas that will emerge in May in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia are part of the "Brood V." These critters belong to a species that only emerge every 17 years and is native in North America.

According to the report of Headline & Global News, there are three species of cicada in North America that emerge every 17 years while four other species that can be found in the area emerge every 13 years.

The 17-year species of cicada is known for its striking appearance. They have black body with orange wing veins and bright red eyes.

While these cicadas emerge in swarms, they can only live four to six weeks after going above ground. They are not that dangerous to humans, but the male mating of these cicadas can be quite disturbing when near the vicinity of the swarm.

Even though the cicadas can be quite irritating, their periodic emergence actually helps the ecosystem quite a lot.

In an interview, Chris Simon, molecular systematist at the University of Connecticut's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, told Weather.com, that the emergence of the cicadas can provide food to other wildlife such as birds and other insect-eating animals.

 "In addition, when the cicadas die, there will be a large nutrient input to the soil that will benefit trees and understory vegetation. As the cicadas emerge, underground biomass will decrease and mole and other insectivore populations that have been feasting on them for years will suddenly be left with a lot less food," Simon added.

Once they the female cicadas have successfully mated, it will lay eggs on pencil-sized branches. One female can lay about 600 eggs before dying. The process then repeat itself after 17 years.

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