The large-winged cicadas have begun crawling out of hibernation, wreaking havoc on Virginia residents.Cicada is Latin for "tree cricket," but many wrongly assume that cicadas are crickets. "Broods" of cicadas hibernate for 17 years at a time before re-emerging like a scene right out of Revelations. Because there are multiple broods of cicadas across the Eastern United States, cicada emergences occur more frequently than every 17 years. In 2000, Brood VI in the Virginia area went into hibernation. In order for cicadas to emerge from hibernation, the ground temperature must surpass 60 degrees Fahrenheit. With temperatures in Virginia and Maryland now reaching into the 90s, the cicada invasion is imminent. The five-eyed locust-like insects will emerge from the ground, mate, reproduce, and then die. The offspring will crawl back into underground hibernation and stay there until the year 2034. After a nearly two decade-long slumber, they’re back and ready to kick butt and take names. However, this Brood was believed to be exclusively hibernating in Southern Virginia/Northern North Carolina. With the cicadas being reported in Fairfax, Virginia and Potomac and Annapolis, Maryland, scientists are beginning to question whether this is, in fact, a Brood VI emergence or if other broods are emerging as well.
For example, Brood X last emerged in Virginia and Maryland in 2004. That means they shouldn’t be back until at least four years from now. Emerging four years early is atypical for a species that hibernates and emerges on such a rigid schedule. Researchers are excited to have the opportunity to study this multi-brood emergence and suspect that their findings might rewrite our understanding of the Magicicada cassini. To better understand this multi-brood phenomenon, scientists are asking residents in DC, Maryland, and Virginia to report cicada sightings to help map out the emergence. If you are seeing these creepy insects in your area, you can report the sighting. During their relatively short time above ground, the cicadas have a pretty busy schedule. In between courting a mate and ensuring the survival of their species, they need to find time to fly into people's faces, land on their hair, drive humans to the brink of insanity with their buzzing wings, pee from trees onto passersby (yes, that really happens), and litter the roadways and sidewalks with their shed exoskeletons. In parts of Asia, cicadas are considered to be a delicacy. Virginia residents, however, are licking their lips in anticipation for the day that these God-forsaken creatures return to their realm in the underworld. In all honesty, cicadas are nothing but a disturbance. They don't bite or carry any diseases. Our hatred of them is purely explained by our disdain for having giant crickets invading our homes. In a few days, they'll be gone again, leaving nothing but their crunchy skins under our shoes to serve as a reminder of their emergence.