By James Liu
For the eastern coast of the United States, it’s about time for a bideccadial (is that even a word?) miracle of nature: a cicada brood emerging. Every 13 or 17 years, different regions of cicadas emerge all at once, ranging in the billions of bugs swarming massive regions of the United States. This May, it’s time for Brood X to emerge after 17 years across states from Pennsylvania to Indiana. For most of us at East, this will be the first time in our lives that Brood X has emerged. While it won’t be hitting Buffalo, to your disappointment or excitement, what would one expect to see when a brood emerges?
When a brood emerges, cicadas that have been feasting on sap underground finally come out to mate and start a new generation that will burrow underground and re-emerge in another 17 years. They shed on trees and leave behind exoskeletons that mark a transition to adulthood. Other wildlife absolutely take advantage of the free bug feast, with animals from birds to house cats eating the bugs when they emerge. The cicadas that emerge will die in a few weeks afterwards, so don’t worry about a massive bug invasion coming that you’ve never heard of. It’s a spectacle that’ll be gone before you know it, preparing for another 17 years to re-emerge and start again.
If you have relatives currently living in areas where Brood X will be emerging, ask for some photos. Skeletons and bugs everywhere must be a fun sight, not to mention the noise of cicada mating calls. If you’re not a fan of creepy crawlies, then don’t worry: Buffalo isn’t a major site of cicada emergence in any brood. Regardless, it’s quite a fascinating event in nature, with so many bugs all synchronized to emerge at the same time.