As if you didn't need another reason to stay inside, experts suggest there will soon be plenty of cicadas outside causing that ever-so-annoying buzz. First, a global pandemic moved us all indoors, and then murder hornets made their way to America. Now, experts in the United States' Appalachia region suggest millions of additional cicadas will be buzzing about thanks to their periodic mating the schedule. According to a new report from the Virginia Tech Daily, states like Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia will see an increased presence from what experts call "brood IX."
Unlike annual cicadas, brood IX is made up of what you'd call "periodical cicadas," a species of the critters that emerge just once every 13 to 17 years to mate before burrowing back into the environment. As fate would have it, 2020 has been 17 years since brood IX last emerged to do the deed.
“Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas emerging at once may have a substantial noise issue,” Virginia Tech entomologist Eric Days predicts. “Hopefully, any annoyance at the disturbance is tempered by just how infrequent — and amazing — this event is.”
Just how many cicadas, though? The Daily says it could be commonplace to see 1.5 million cicadas per acre in parts of Southwest Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
As for that buzzing that we hear? That's the mating call males put out attempting to attract females. As it's been 17 years since they've last been in and about, it's reasonable to believe there will be plenty of buzzing.
As the Daily reports, while the sound can be annoying to most, it poses a legitimate threat to ornamental tree growers. "Cicadas do not pose a danger to these plants through feeding, but instead through their egg-laying habits," the paper explains. "Cicada females select pencil-width branches or vines, then implant their eggs into them using a sharp egg laying tube called an ovipositor. The nymphs then hatch from the eggs and drop down to burrow into the soil where they begin harmlessly feeding on the plants’ roots. The egg implantation causes the branch or vine to split and wither, a phenomenon known as “flagging” where a group of leaves on an otherwise healthy part of the plant turn brown and die. For a small tree or young vine, too many flagging sections can stunt their growth or even kill them outright."
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