17-Year-Cicadas: When And Where Will They Begin To Swarm? [VIDEO]
The cicada invasion is upon us.
The flying bugs, which emerge from their underground lairs once every 17 years, have reportedly been sighted along the East Coast, just around the time scientists have predicted they would appear.
"There are some pretty convincing reports coming out," John Cooley, a University of Connecticut professor and cicada expert, told NBC News. "It's fair to say it's starting, but it's still in the very early stages." Cooley added that when the full scale of the cicada invasion arrives, people will certainly notice it. "When it really happens, it's not going to be like this. It's going to be shovel loads of cicadas."
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And it's going to be loud. The horrific buzz that will soon be heard from North Carolina to Connecticut is the cicada's mating call, which can reach levels of 120 decibels-as loud as a sandblaster and even louder than a train whistle. That's technically loud enough to cause hearing loss in a human--but only if (for some reason) one's ear was right up against a buzzing cicada.
The cicada's loud mating call is useful not only in attracting a mate, but in repelling cicada-eating birds. Birds hate the loud sound, and find it difficult to hunt in groups in the midst of the cicadas' aural attack. The cicada call is in fact so loud that cicadas themselves have tendons that automatically retract when they sing, so they won't damage their own hearing.
If you want to follow the cicada outbreak, head over to Radiolab's interactive Cicada Tracker, where amateur entomologists and enthusiasts are contributing readings from soil temperature sensors to determine when the ground soil reaches a steady 64 degrees--the time when cicadas emerge en masse. The Radiolab site also offers instructions for building your very own soil temperature sensor, as well as reports of actual cicada sightings. (So far there have only been a handful of sightings in New York City.)
Of course, you can also just rely on your own eyes and ears to know when the outbreak has occurred. You can't miss the sight of cicadas' cast-off exoskeleton clutching to trees, nor their loud-as-a-train collective buzz.
Take a look at the fascinating (and fairly gross) way cicadas molt.
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, tweet, Facebook or email your story to us and we'll include it in our roundup.
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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