Rare Double-Brood Cicada Invasion Set to Enthrall Midwest and Southeast

Rare Double-Brood Cicada Invasion Set to Enthrall Midwest and Southeast

Billions of cicadas are preparing to make a grand entrance, marking a rare phenomenon not witnessed for over two centuries. This synchronized emergence of two different broods of cicadas is expected to captivate the Midwest and Southeastern regions of the United States, starting as early as May. Experts anticipate an extraordinary event, with estimations suggesting that over a trillion cicadas could blanket areas where the two broods intersect.

Cicadas, those noisy yet harmless insects, are gearing up for a month-long mating ritual, as they emerge from their underground abodes once every 13 or 17 years. This year's spectacle promises to be particularly striking as it involves the convergence of Brood XIII and Brood XIX cicadas. The former group, adhering to a 17-year cycle, predominantly resides in the Midwest, encompassing Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana. On the other hand, Brood XIX cicadas, operating on a 13-year cycle, emerge across a broader geographical expanse, spanning states like Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.

What makes this event even more exceptional is the rarity of such synchronicity, occurring only once every 221 years. It's a convergence of different cicada broods, a natural spectacle that enthralls entomologists and bug enthusiasts alike. The anticipation is palpable, as this generation prepares to witness a phenomenon last observed when Thomas Jefferson held presidential office.

Jim Louderman, a collections assistant in the insect division at the Field Museum in Chicago, expresses the magnitude of this event, highlighting its significance to the scientific community. For him and his colleagues, this synchronized emergence presents a rare opportunity to observe and document a natural occurrence of immense proportions.

Cicadas, known for their deafening mating calls, generate a buzz that can reach up to 100 decibels. Despite the nuisance they may pose to some, it's essential to note their harmless nature towards humans. As thousands of cicada species exist worldwide, periodical cicadas stand out for spending the majority of their lives underground, nourishing themselves on tree roots. However, once every 13 or 17 years, they emerge en masse, transforming landscapes with their distinctive presence.

Daniel Young, a professor of entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, underscores the geographical significance of this event, emphasizing the narrow overlap of the two broods in central Illinois. This convergence provides a unique opportunity for researchers to study the behavior and distribution patterns of these fascinating insects.

While the impending cicada invasion may evoke mixed emotions among residents, Young encourages individuals to embrace this rare spectacle. He invites people to participate in tracking cicada sightings through various platforms such as the Cicada Safari app or websites like Buginourbackyard.org or Bugguide.net. This citizen science initiative aims to map the range of cicadas across affected regions, providing valuable data for researchers and enthusiasts alike.

As temperatures rise and soil conditions become optimal, cicadas will emerge from their underground dwellings, heralding the arrival of spring with their cacophonous chorus. While some may find the sight of countless cicadas overwhelming, for others, it's a testament to the wonders of the natural world.

Louderman, a self-professed lifelong cicada enthusiast, recalls his early fascination with these insects during a periodic emergence when he was just eight years old. Much like the recent total solar eclipse, he hopes this event will inspire curiosity and wonder, particularly among the younger generation. Perhaps, amidst the chaos of buzzing cicadas, a budding entomologist may discover their passion for the study of insects.

In conclusion, the impending double-brood invasion of cicadas promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, uniting communities in awe and fascination. As these winged insects prepare to emerge from their subterranean homes, researchers and enthusiasts eagerly await the opportunity to witness and study this remarkable natural phenomenon.

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