Cicadas prepare to mount assault on East Coast this summer

After a 17-year hiatus, swarms of cicadas, called "Brood II," will return to the Eastern Seaboard this summer, bringing a sure-fire disturbance to your peaceful day and an immense boon to the ecosystem.

They're coming.

Residents of the Eastern Seaboard can expect swarms of buzzing cicadas this spring and summer after the bugs spent the last 17 years maturing and festering underground, entomologists predicted. 

It will be the first cicada "brood" to hit the East Coast since 1996, when the last "Brood II" cicadas give birth to the bugs that will drive American eardrums bananas this year.

Cicadas to bring booming voices back after 17-year absense

Cicadas to bring booming voices back after 17-year absense
Duration: 1:59 Views: 1k WBAL Baltimore

Typically, the harmless black bugs stay underground anywhere from 13 to 17 years in order to throw off their predators. There they mature, dispatch their shells and burrow out when the time is right, usually when the thermostat reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Cicadamania.com. Their end goal is to take flight and look for mates.

While it's unknown when and where the cicada flocks of Brood II will hit, experts think the Carolinas could see them in late April or early May, followed by Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York around June, according to NBC News.

So Big Apple residents beware: The irritating flyers like the countryside and wooded areas, so that means they could seek refuge in Central Park — which would make a June picnic a bit more interesting in Manhattan. 

WHAT'S THAT CLICKING NOISE?

When cicadas mate, they like to let the world know — or so it seems. Male cicadas "sing" to attract females and emit what can come out to be a 120-decibel click-like sound. When performed in unison by hundreds of thousands of the insects, the song can travel for miles.

Former Plymouth Colony Gov. William Bradford, a signer of the Mayflower Compact, remarked in the 1630s that cicadas "made such a constant yelling noise as made all the woods ring of them, and ready to deaf the hearers," according to NPR.

And according to CBS New York, they go to sleep at night, just like humans.

Once the cicadas mate, the females place eggs on trees, which hatch six to eight weeks later and head underground for another 13- to 17-year period. The older cicadas die soon after, leaving behind a feeding frenzy for birds and other animals.

Cicada swarms are typically huge boons to ecosystems, both in life and in death. There are so many that a 98 percent mortality rate for nymphs doesn't affect the species, according to The Washington Post.

"It creates a monstrous pulse of energy into the ecosystem they emerge from," Sam Droege, a scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, told the Post.

Cicadas aren't locusts and won't ruin your crops or the surrounding ecosystem. If you can block out their clicking noises, the innocuous bugs shouldn't do too much harm to your pleasant summer.

Cicadas: Graphic on the life cycle of cicadasMCT

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