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Trillions of cicadas will emerge in the US “in the biggest invasion in centuries.”

Trillions of cicadas will appear in parts of the U.S. in numbers not seen in decades and possibly centuries.

People in the southeast of the US Experts say they will be a “unparalleled sight” as periodical cicadas – which typically emerge every 13 years – emerge at the same time as another brood that emerges this spring on a 17-year cycle.

While annual cicadas, which are larger and greener than their black counterparts, are found all over the world, periodical beetles, which are black in color and have red, bulging eyes, are found only in North America.

The double appearance of periodical cicadas, notorious for their loudness, is a rare phenomenon and is estimated to have last occurred 221 years ago in 1803, when Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers, was US president.

Cicada expert John Cooley of the University of Connecticut dubbed the impending dueling invasion “Cicada-Geddon.”

Sometimes they are confused with grasshoppers; their buzzing can reach a volume of 110 decibels.

“Periodic cicadas don’t work subtly,” Mr. Cooley said.

Brood X cicadas. File image: Reuters
Picture:
Brood X cicadas. File image: Reuters

There are already clear signs of impending occupation by Brood XIXs – the cicadas that emerge on a 13-year cycle – as they have formed boreholes in Georgia’s red clay.

As a species with the widest geographical distribution, the XIX population is distributed in the Midwest, including Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, as well as in the Southeast, in smaller parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma , South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland, according to National Geographic.

Soon after their emergence, cicadas from another population, Brood XIII, will appear in Illinois.

The XIII population occurs only once every 17 years and is “historically common,” according to University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp.

The simultaneous emergence of breeding cycles is a rare event that will result in more cicadas “than anywhere else at any other time,” said University of Maryland entomologist Paula Shrewsbury.

Georgia Tech biophysicist Saad Bhamla said: “We have trillions of these amazing living organisms coming out of the ground, climbing trees and it’s just a unique experience, a sight to behold.”

“It’s as if an entire alien species lives beneath our feet and then comes out a few prime years to say hello.”

This year, cicadas will cover an area equivalent to the size of the U.S. state of Delaware, according to researchers at the University of Connecticut.

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“If we accept an estimate of one million cicadas per acre, and if the total area of ​​a periodic cicada outbreak is approximately the size of Delaware, then more than a trillion cicadas are involved.” says the research.

“With cicadas appearing from Maryland to Oklahoma, Illinois to Alabama in 2024, there will clearly be trillions of adult cicadas – but not all in the same place at the same time.”

Periodical cicadas search for vegetation around mature trees where they can mate and lay eggs, then go underground to feast on the roots, said biologist Gene Kritsky of Mount St. Joseph University, a cicada expert. who wrote a book about this year’s double appearance.

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