Millions of Cicadas Are Expected to Emerge After 17 Years Underground Because, of Course, It’s 2020

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As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with giant murder hornets invading the United States and a global pandemic, millions of 17-year cicadas will emerge from the ground this year.

As many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre may emerge, and people living in Southwest Virginia, parts of North Carolina, and West Virginia could witness this unique phenomenon, Virginia Tech says in a news release.

Luckily, cicadas are harmless to humans. At most, the noise they make could become a nuisance.

“Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas emerging at once may have a substantial noise issue,” said Eric Day, Virginia Cooperative Extension entomologist in Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology.

“Hopefully, any annoyance at the disturbance is tempered by just how infrequent—and amazing—this event is.”

However, they are a danger to orchids, vines, and trees due to the egg-laying habits of its females.

“Cicadas can occur in overwhelming numbers and growers in predicted areas of activity should be watchful,” said Doug Pfeiffer, a professor and extension specialist in Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology.

Cicadas are large, cleared-winged insects that occur either annually or periodically. It’s a mystery as to why periodical cicadas only emerge every 13 or 17 years, but it’s been theorized that it’s to avoid syncing up with predator cycles.

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