Sightings of cicada nymphs have been spotted up and down the U.S. East Coast this May. This is the year it is expected the cicada population will explode as the time has arrived for those insects that have been buried in the ground for the last 17 years begin to dig their way to the surface.
The cicadas are anticipated to be seen in huge amounts from North Carolina along the Mid-Atlantic states up to Connecticut. Other areas will also find new populations emerging, but this specific population only emerges every 17 years and appears on the eastern half of the United States, as Live Science reports (courtesy Fox News).
This population, referred to as "Brood II", is expected to be in the billions. USA Today reports the estimate of 30 billion.
Media reports indicate that some areas in Virginia are already seeing cicada swarms. The Northern Virginia region is supposed to see one of the heaviest showings, as noted by Radiolab's Cicada Tracker,but many other eastern states will definitely see — and hear — their fair share.
Once the cicadas emerge, residents can expect to hear a lot of noise. The annual cicadas are generally noisy, but NBC News reports that this population can " raise a din as loud as a lawnmower or jet engine (90 decibels)". This will occur for about four to six weeks in May and June as the cicadas lay their eggs to begin the next 17-year cycle.
In addition to the noise, people living in affected areas can also expect to see layers of cicadas on the ground and covering buildings. Once finished with the egg-laying process, the billions of cicadas will die off and leave their bodies behind as a memento.
As the elder cicadas die off, with its 17-year life-cycle, the baby offspring of the Brood II cicada will bury themselves. While underground, the cicadas will feed on fluids from plant roots. They'll do this until they become "teenagers". Seventeen years later they will pop up when the soil temperatures reach 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).
Many media reports are noting that during Brood II's last cycle, there was no social media to share photos or experiences. A lot has changed since 1996. This year could get interesting in what people share.
After this year's explosive appearance, the Brood II cicadas will go away until 2030 when the next emergence will occur.