5 Things to Know About Cicadas


The unique sound is realized with the help of the brown exoskeleton.

BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Starting today, North Americans will witness a rare, once in seventeen years event. Broad V will unearth itself, millions of cicadas growing their hard, brown, outdoor coat and filling the air with their unique mating call.

Why This Year?

There are multiple species of cicadas. Some emerge once every three years, others once every five, thirteen, and seventeen. The ones that will unearth themselves starting today are part of the latter species.

Broad V, as researchers dubbed it, has been asleep ever since 1999. Now, after seventeen years of feeding with delicious tree sap from roots, and keeping themselves warm underground, the insects will dig themselves out and start the magnificent mating ritual that made them famous.

Cicadas Are the Longest Living Insects on Earth

Due to their very long adolescence, the cicadas are the longest living insects on Earth. While the average life span of an insect is a couple of months, going on a year, the cicadas, depending on the brood, can live up to seventeen years.

Their Mating Ritual Was Described as Being “Transcendent.”

Some people who witnessed the previous emergence of Brood V described the sound as being “transcendent.” Researchers agree, stating that the “music of the mating cicadas” is one of the most hypnotic sounds in nature.

Will It Will Get Loud?

Even though the cicadas will offer the musical experience of a lifetime, it will feel like a rock concert, rather than a romantic serenade. The sound is produced by the insects through vibrations.

When a cicada emerges from the ground, it is covered in a white, soft skin. In a couple of days, it hardens, becoming a brown, hard shell. When the temperature is right, the males will start “trembling”, emitting a sound that resembles maracas being shaken. Imagine that multiplied with a couple of millions of individuals, and you’ll get the picture of what will come.

If They Are So Rare, Why Does the Mating Call Sound Familiar?

Cicadas usually form broods. They mate, and they die according to the schedule of their brood. However, not all American cicadas mated in the same year.

Usually, there’s a cicada brood that is ready to mate every year. This one gets so much publicity because it is known as one of the loudest.

Image source: Wikipedia