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| June 24, 2017

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Cicadas to Reemerge after 17 Years

Cicadas to Reemerge after 17 Years
Charles Chong

For the uninformed, the sudden appearance of billions of cicadas emerging from their 17 years underground may seem like a sign of the apocalypse.  Well, don’t repent just yet because these critters will only be around for two weeks sometime this month.

These periodical cicadas are grouped into broods, which is based on the calendar year when they emerge.  The brood of interest this time around is Brood II, which has been sighted in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington D.C.   These cicadas tunnel to the surface after spending 17 years of their lives underground.  Soon after reaching the surface, they will find a nearby tree or bush to molt, lay eggs, then die off – all in the span of two weeks.  While scientists are not sure why these cicadas will emerge specifically after 17 years, they do know that a specific soil temperature is the trigger for these Brood II cicadas to seemingly tunnel to the surface at the same time en masse.

Here is a map of the expected areas of reemergence:

Cicadas to Reemerge after 17 Years - Map

Gold symbols are the ones of interest; blue symbols have lower degrees of certainty; and dark red/brown symbols show confirmed sightings from 1979 onwards.
Image courtesy of

While many may be freaked out by the notion of thousands upon thousands of cicadas flying around, there is nothing to worry about because cicadas or not locusts.  In fact, cicadas are relatively harmless and do not bite whatsoever.  They will not wipe away whole crops, nor will they try to fly into your home with the intent purpose of getting you to confess your sins.  In fact, cicadas are often considered a delicacy, and there exist many recipes that involve tenerals, or young cicadas whose shells have not yet hardened.

So when you begin to see these 2-inch large insects climb up from the ground en masse, don’t be too freaked out.  They won’t hurt you.  And for the gutsy ones, here’s a PDF file from the University of Maryland filled with recipes using cicadas: Cicada Recipes.