Billions of flying cicadas (Brood X) prepare to invade the east coast of the United States, from New York to Tennessee.
After 17 years spent underground they emerge to mate and do so with a deafening noise, very similar, in decibels, to those of a motorcycle.
And soon the males, main responsible for this “love music” will create an unnatural soundtrack in parks and gardens.
“A real invasion is coming. Billions of cicadas will emerge from the ground “, tweeted the National Mall which groups parks and monuments in Washington.
The Environmental Protection Agency has appealed for people not to use insecticides that could harm humans.
The cicadas, beyond the annoying noise, are harmless and represent, in the cycle of life, food for many animals. They are harmless, they only live for a month and therefore the only advice that official sources give is to “ignore them”.
A mystery is how they keep track of the passing years. Some studies have found that they can sense time cycles because they are connected to tree roots.
The use of pesticides is useless as a remedy because cicadas are not pests, they do not bite, nor transmit pathogens, nor damage crops or properties.
Spraying, he adds, only increases the health risks to humans and other animals.
For some experts this invasion could be an opportunity to learn more about forests because understanding how they work is the key to living there sustainably.
Two of the factors that make them emerge from the subsoil are humidity and heat, the ideal thermal condition is an earth at 18 degrees.
Cicadas spend most of their lives underground feeding on tree roots, before tunneling to the surface. Once outside, generally in green areas, they head en masse towards the trees. Females lay between 400 and 600 eggs on thin branches which they puncture with a series of stings. Spiders and predators eat them and, according to some “passionate” men, they taste similar to tofu. There are several subspecies of cicadas, with different life cycles and swarm volumes. The generation now emerging on the east coast, Brood X, is the longest-lived and one that is hatching en masse.
The phenomenon usually lasts about 40 days. The buzz that a swarm of males makes to attract females can reach 90 decibels. The ear will be exposed to loud sounds such as construction work.
Normally Americans shelter from the noise by staying at home but after the long lockdown it will be very difficult for them to do so.
Within a month of their appearance on the surface, they die. If the humming of the males has an effect on the females, they will have succeeded in mating and will lay huge quantities of eggs on the branches of the trees and at the end of the summer the new generation will return underground.
In any case, that of the cicadas is another incredible natural spectacle that in any case is worth observing.