Are Cicadas Back to Bug Loudoun?

Erin Crowley, Staff Writer

Most people are familiar with the high-pitched buzzing often associated with summer. These otherworldly noises are caused by cicadas: large, dark colored bugs that emerge every summer on the East Coast. While completely harmless, these insects can be intimidating as they are roughly the size of a paperclip, if not larger.

The cicada’s life span is unique. The insect’s eggs are laid on leaves before they make their way underground where, depending on the species, the hatchlings will stay for 13 or 17 years. Each year a different group known as a brood emerges. Once the years have passed, they come above ground for two to six weeks and emit a mating call (the buzzing sound people hear during the summertime) to breed and then promptly die the same summer.

Cicadas arrive every year, but since some broods are larger than others, people can expect to see larger swarms during certain years. While there are predictions for future brood sizes and emerging dates, they are not always accurate. This year it appears Northern Virginia is seeing a typical sized brood, along with a straggler group from Ohio. As for next year, there is little evidence suggesting an abnormally large brood. However, the extremely large group known as Brood X, which made its last appearance in 2004, is predicted to reappear in 2020. So this year’s Freshmen and Sophomores get to experience the mighty swarm to come.



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