Billions Of Cicadas: Are The Bugs Swarming The East Coast Dangerous? [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on April 8, 2013 2:17 PM EDT

cicada
Cicadas are about the size of a large paperclip and produce a loud buzzing sound to attract mates. This spring, the air will be filled with the hum of the cicada, as billions of the bugs are about to invade the East Coast of the U.S. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Cicada Watch 2013 Update: Join the #CicadaInvasion!

With 30 billion cicadas expected to invade the U.S. this summer, iScienceTimes is waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the swarms in our neighborhoods.

We want to know when and where they first emerge, so we've created a hashtag, #cicadainvasion, for all our readers to use. As soon as you get a video, a photo or an audiorecording, or even simply see a cicada, tweetFacebook or email your story to us and we'll include it in our roundup.

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Keep an eye out! Cicadas emerge when the ground temperature stays above 64 degrees for several days in a row-- which should be any day now!

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Billions of cicadas will rise from the ground and swarm the northeastern U.S. this spring. The billions of cicadas have been buried in the soil for almost two decades, living off the juices from plant roots. Soon, they will sprout from the soil, throng the trees, and produce their extremely loud buzzing sound - which can be heard up to a mile away and sounds like the hum of power lines - as part of their mating ritual.

The Epoch Times reports that after a week or so of mating, the billions of cicadas will shed their final skin and fly off. Will the billions of cicadas coming to the northeastern corner of the U.S. cause any problems, and are they dangerous?

The billions of cicadas about to invade the Northeast are called Brood II cicadas and emerge from their underground nests every 17 years. This latest generation is the offspring of the 1996 cicada invasion. According to National Geographic, cicadas, which are about the length of a large paper clip, burrow in the ground after hatching and live off of the roots of plants for many, many years. They have stout bodies, large heads, clear wings and large eyes. They are located throughout the northeastern corner of the U.S. from North Carolina to New England.

While the exact timing of the cicada invasion is unknown, the Wildlife Conservation Society predicts that the billions of cicada will be here sometime between mid-April and late May. In order for them to emerge, the ground must reach a temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Yahoo News.

The billions of cicadas will be with us for four to six weeks. After the cicadas mate, the females will lay their eggs. Both the males and females will die soon afterwards, leaving the next generation to sprout and invade the East Coast in 2030.

While they might cause people to become squeamish, cicadas are benign to humans. They won't carry your child away, or crawl into your bed and feast on your skin while you sleep. They don't even bite or sting. They can, however, wreak havoc on local vegetation.

According to National Geographic, cicadas have been a source of awe since ancient times. The Chinese, for example, saw the cicadas as a powerful symbol of rebirth. Cicadas can also be eaten, and their skins, ground into a powder, can even be used to treat things like fever and skin rashes.

Are you ready for the cicada invasion? Check out this cicada tracker by wnyc.org to see when the invasion will reach you, and check back with iScience Times for cicada updates!

Read more:

Locusts Swarm Egypt: See 30 Million Bugs Threaten Egyptian Harvest [PHOTOS] [VIDEOS]

Plague Of Locusts: Is Madagascar In Danger?

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