After over a year of being stuck indoors, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to slowly be coming to a close. But if you live in certain parts of the United States, you may experience a second plague this year in the form of a bug. Periodical cicadas are set to emerge in 2021.
If you don’t know what periodical cicadas are, here are the basics: periodical cicadas are bugs that will spend 13 or 17 years underground before emerging in massive, incredibly loud swarms. There are different broods that will appear in different years and Brood X is the periodical cicada swarm that is set to make its first above-ground showing since 2004.
So where are these periodical cicadas going to pop up? According to a map that tracks different broods of periodical cicadas by location, Indiana will be the primary target of Brood X, along with Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and even down into Georgia.
In each of these states, millions of cicadas will emerge from their underground burrows, mostly in forests or the woods, and millions of them will suddenly be shedding their exoskeletons and sprouting wings in order to create the next brood of cicadas. The process takes about 4-6 weeks to complete before the new brood will burrow back into the ground for nearly two decades.
The whole thing can look a bit apocalyptic, which is why periodical cicadas are sometimes referred to as locusts. However, even though they are quite loud and can look pretty intimidating, cicadas actually do not pose any real threat to humans.
When will the Brood X emerge? There’s not an exact starting dating but West Virginia University biologist Matt Kasson told The New York Times that the cicadas are “waiting for the soil to be warm enough.” He says that is typically the third week of May but that it could happen sooner or later depending on the area.