After 17 years spent underground, Brood IX (9) periodical cicadas are getting ready to burst from the ground in the coming days and weeks. The emergence is expected to happen mostly in northwestern North Carolina, southwestern Virginia, and southeastern West Virginia. The insects usually appear in mid-May and continue through early July, emerging from the ground when the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees.
While underground, the cicadas are digging tunnels and feasting on tree roots. The unique 17-year life cycle has developed as an evolutionary technique for avoiding predators, making it difficult for other species to sync the cicada life cycle with their own. Once they emerge, the male will start buzzing loudly to attract mates.
Although this brood has spent 17 years underground, some periodical cicadas only stay 13 years in their subterranean dwellings.
Adult cicadas have a lifespan of just one month, but since females leave behind hundreds of eggs, their population numbers remain high.
Periodical cicadas are large, with orange-veined wings and big red eyes. Despite their striking appearance, you may not spot them, but you’re sure to hear them.