COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — The Brood X cicadas are returning this spring and spanning across more than a dozen states. Billions are set to emerge, including here in Ohio.
These cicadas have been underground for nearly 17 years.
“They lay their eggs and then their nymphs develop for basically 16 and three-quarters of a year in the soil feeding on roots of trees and shrubs,” said David Shetlar, an Entomologist at the Ohio State University.
They’re hard to miss, as the emergence comes with an ear-piercing buzz.
“So, an individual male can actually reach about 100 decibels, which is about the same noise level as a running lawnmower,” said Ryan Larrick, with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
This Brood X cicada is likely to make an appearance in Ohio by mid-May and stick around through June.
“Usually, it takes until the temperature about eight inches below the surface of the topsoil reaches about 68 degrees, and usually they are triggered when there’s a nice warm rain,” said Larrick.
While harmless to us, they are a nuisance. Many recall the 2004 Memorial Tournament when the cicadas were last here.
“Nothing got quiet,” said Shetlar. “There were these cicadas all over the trees, making these loud buzzing noises.”
While we see cicadas annually, this brood is different.
“Our 17-year cicadas are actually a little bit blacker in color and they actually have the red eyes,” Said Larrick. “It’s a way that we think they help throw off predators.”
Most of these cicadas can be found around maple trees.
“You won't see them around many trees like pine or cedar, because they really don’t like those sticky surfaces on those trees,” said Larrick.
“They’ve already seen some of the little, what we call mud chimneys, what they push up just prior to emergence,” said Shetlar.
It’s not all that bad, these 17-year cicadas have some benefits to our environment.
“Apparently, all the dead bodies of the cicadas falling out of the trees onto the ground, as they rot and decay they release nutrients back into the soil,” said Shetlar.
The emergence marks the end of the cicada's life cycle.
“The adult's mate, the females will actually lay their eggs in areas of trees,” said Larrick. “When the eggs hatch, the eggs will hatch and the larvae will actually fall from the tree into the ground, and they will burrow into the ground as quickly as they can.”
The cicadas can kill recently planted trees or saplings. If you are looking to plant, you should wait until fall. If you have recently planted, experts suggest putting netting over trees, so the females don’t cut into the tree and kill it.