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Trillions of Cicadas Are About to Wreak Havoc in the U.S.

Mass numbers of cicadas will start emerging in 15 U.S. states after living underground for 17 years.

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Scientists said that trillions of cicadas will emerge within the U.S. in a couple of weeks at most and come out from their underground shelters after 17 years, according to the AP.

The cicadas of Brood X will emerge at a larger and noticeable scale across 15 states including New York, Indiana and Georgia, according to scientists. The insects are currently surfacing in Tennessee and North Carolina. Entomologists at the University of Maryland also found a yard in Maryland that contains around 1.5 million cicadas.

Broods of cicadas typically emerge every 13 to 17 years in the Midwest and on the East Coast, according to National Geographic. The U.S. is the only country in the world that has periodic cicadas that stay underground for this long, entomologist John Cooley at the University of Connecticut told AP.

Noise levels from the cicada’s emergence are expected to reach 105 decibels, scientists told the news wire. Cooley described the noise as “a singles bar gone horribly, horribly wrong.” 

Regardless of the inconvenient noise, scientists said that it is a good sign that Brood X is surfacing from the underground in the midst of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss because its emergence signals a positive sign for nature. 

Other scientists say that people shouldn’t fear the mass surfacing of cicadas, citing more dangerous insects.

The mosquito kills more people than any other animals because of malaria and other diseases. Yet some people really dread the cicada emergence,” May Berenbaum, an entomologist at the University of Illinois, told the AP. 

Fear of insects stems from the lack of education, Elizabeth Barnes, an entomological educator at Purdue University, told National Geographic.

“They don’t sting, they don’t bite, they’re not going to try to come after you,” she said of the cicadas. 

Cicadas are usually a source of food for predators, but they also help move nutrients around and freshen up the soil. They have been around for about five million years, according to National Geographic, and usually come out to breed and lay eggs in trees.

Fatma Khaled

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Fatma Khaled covers different news beats ranging from tech, finance, retail and international business to human interest and social justice stories. She previously reported for Business Insider, TheStreet and New York Daily News.