Billions of cicadas are emerging in the US, here's what to know about the rare occurence

No, god has not unleashed a plague during the election year. Here's why cicadas are emerging in the billions across the US.

Cicada US
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Cicada US

The United States is beginning to see a very strange and rare phenomenon take shape, right during election season. Billions of cicadas were expected to pop up from the ground this spring across southeastern United States, and they have now officially started crawling their way out.

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The phenomenon has been dubbed 'a plague' online and is a once-in-a-lifetime occurence. Here's why.

Cicadas and their life-cycle

As explained by the National History of Museum, the types of cicadas that are now taking over certain parts of the US are special because they live most of their life underground. Known as periodical cicadas, some of these insects spend life cycles of over 10 years underneath the surface.

Starting their lives as nymphs, they survive in the ground below us by feeding on roots. Certain types of cicadas can live there for up to 17 years before becoming adults.

Once the nymphs transform into winged adults, they then emerge from the ground and go out into the world to mate. Adult cicadas, once emerged, only have a life span of about three to four weeks.

The reason behind the 2024 'plague'

What's special about the emergence of cicadas this year is that not one but two of the largest broods (groups) of periodical cicadas are coming out to play. CNN reports that broods with 13-year and 17-year life cycles are both emerging at the same time this spring—hence the 'plague' of insects.

This means that the adult cicada population that will be singing mating songs, and reproducing, will be in the billions.

In fact, the noises have already started taking over in Indiana. BBC talked to Dennis Higgins, a resident, who says that this is just the beginning:

This is just the start, because when they get cooking it sounds like a science-fiction movie from the 50s.
They’re your new neighbors and you can’t pound on their wall and tell them to shut up.

What makes this phenomenon even more rare is that it's the first time this is happening in 221 years. Indeed, as per BBC, the last time this happened was two centuries ago in 1803.

According to Forbes, only Illinois and Indiana will experience the plague of the two broods this year, but cicadas will emerge in other states.

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Sources used:

Forbes: The Cicadas Have Arrived: Millions Of Noisy Bugs Plague U.S. This Spring—But Bring These Benefits

Natural Museum of History

BBC: Hear the sound after billions of cicadas emerge in the US

CNN: Billions of cicadas are set to appear in a rare ‘double brood emergence,’ scientists say

Fox News: Billions of noisy cicadas emerge from slumber across the US

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