Area avoids plague of cicadas

Published 2:18 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The buzz this spring has begun with the emergence of the Brood X 17-year cicada in some areas, but chances are we will not hear the loud noises of the large insects.

Some of the places seeing the most reports of cicadas are around Washington, D.C.; Bethesda, Maryland; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Cincinnati, Ohio, according to the U.S Forest Service.

There are three species of 17-year cicadas. Cicadas are large, colorful, fly-like bugs with large eyes and tented wings.

As the male cicadas sing their loud mating songs, some insect enthusiasts label it as the sound of summer.

“Those teenagers have been underground for 17 years, and, hey, in May, they’re coming up,” Michael Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, said. “It’s going to be a big boy band up in the treetops as the males try to attract their mates.”

Brood X is the largest of the 17-year cicada broods, occurring in parts of 15 states.  Periodical cicadas emerge in large numbers when the soil temperature reached 64 degrees and often after a soaking rain.

“Annual cicadas, known as dog-day cicadas in the U.S., are found throughout the world,” said Sandy Liebhold, a research entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station. “But the periodical cicadas emerge in massive groups known as “broods” once every 13 or 17 years and are unique to North America.”

According to the U.S. Forest Service’s map of cicadas, the last time we here in Central Virginia heard the loud buzz was in 2013 when the Brood II 17-year cicada made its appearance.

So, if you’re a fan of insects, you will have to wait another nine years until 2030 until the cicadas emerge here in our area.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Brood X cicada will begin to emerge in some parts of Northern Virginia towards the end of May.

When it comes to the noise that the male cicadas sing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sounds up to 90 decibels could be measured standing directly under a tree filled with cicadas.

A motorcycle, by comparison, can put out sounds up to 95 decibels, which can damage hearing after about 50 minutes of continuous exposure.