MIAMI VALLEY — The Miami Valley is about a month away from a cicada season unlike anything the region has seen for 17 years.
“It’s an exciting time around here,” Don Cipollini, a professor of biological sciences at Wright State University said.
He explained, Brood X is a population of cicadas made up of three species.
“They tend to be black bodied with red eyes,” Cipollini said.
The insects, which live underground, are currently making their way to the surface. They will appear in mid-May and fly around until mid-June.
The Miami Valley got a preview of Brood X in 2017 during a pre-emergence. During that cicada season, Cipollini said thousands to millions of the insects were flying around the area. This year’s population will be in the billions.
Cipollini said they are not dangerous.
“They’re not as scary as people make them out to be,” Cipollini said.
They can however be a problem for young, freshly planted trees.
“Don’t plant next spring, because these trees are going to simply get hammered next year when those cicadas show up,” University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp told WTOP News last year. Trees planted in 2020 will be in danger, as well.
Raupp said you can cover young trees with netting by the middle or end of April to keep cicadas from laying eggs in the branches.
However, they also will be inescapable as they fly around and make noise.
“The sound will be deafening on a late afternoon on a sunny day. A high shrill. They can talk over 100 decibels,” Cipollini said.
That sound is the males trying to scare away predators and attract mates.
Once they mate and the females lay eggs in small tree branches the insects die.
The eggs eventually fall to the ground, where the new population of Brood X will stay for another 17 years.
“I try to encourage people to enjoy them when they’re here. You only see them once in 17 years like this,” Cipollini said. “It’s a spectacle of nature that has fascinated humans since we first started to pay attention to this stuff.”