After 17 Years, Brood X is Emerging Across the East Coast

By: Alexis Cope

For the first time in nearly two decades, a horde of billions of cicadas, labeled “Brood X”, has emerged and swarmed areas of the northeast. 

These insects, called periodical cicadas, live 13 or 17 year life cycles, most of which is spent underground eating roots and other plants. In the last months of their lives, the cicadas will emerge, shed out of their juvenile skin, and begin searching for a mate. That droning buzzing sound you often associate with cicadas is, in fact, the males issuing their mating calls. 

While Brood X is only going to swarm in states like Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia, other periodical cicadas exist across nearly every eastern state. Residents of the afflicted states this year have catalogued the cicadas’ takeover; many have shared images of cicadas crawling over their faces, the ground, and jars full of collected cicada shells. Some have even begun posting recipes online for such delicacies as chocolate covered cicadas for anyone who feels like a forager at heart.

Victory Urbanstead, via Instagram

At the moment, there are a dozen periodical cicada broods on the 17-year cycle, such as Brood X, and three broods on a 13-year cycle. Brood X is the only brood which will emerge this year; the next time these cicadas will appear is 2024, when Brood XIII,  a 17-year cicada, and Brood XIX, a 13-year cicada, emerge. Brood XIX will appear in several areas in North Carolina, including Wake County. 

Periodical cicadas in the U.S., U.S. FOREST SERVICE

These periodical cicadas typically only live above ground for four to six weeks, so if you want to witness this incredible phenomenon in the wild, take a road trip up to West Virginia soon. Me, though, I’ll be staying home where I don’t have to hear the racket of those creepy-crawlies covering nearly every surface.

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