Over the next few weeks along the East Coast and Midwest, the cicadas will emerge from the ground, shed their skins and partake in a month-long mating ritual, making quite a scene — climbing trees and singing mating songs as loud as 100 decibels, the same intensity as a jackhammer.
There are over a dozen known broods of cicadas in the U.S. categorized by when they emerge together from the ground. Brood X is considered one of the largest and makes its appearance like clockwork every 17 years.
“I think it’s not that the cicadas know anything per se. I think part of it is hardwired. So there’s a series of biochemical cascades, you know, hormones that rise and fall that set off a trigger. And if you have a certain hormone level and the temperature of the soil is 64 degrees, it’s go time,” Ware said.
Even though they don’t pose a threat to us, humans do pose a threat to them. Urban sprawl and over-development have destroyed whole cicada populations. And because of the warming climate, periodical cicadas are emerging anywhere from a week to a month earlier than they did just decades ago. Ware said it might even shorten the amount of years they stay underground.