Cicadas are emerging in Maryland again after 17 years underground, what you need to know about the loud insects

Kaleah Mcilwain

Governor Larry Hogan has declared May and June Maryland Magicicada Months.

Some Marylanders might not recall the loud shrill droning noise coming from outside at night. That is the sound of the Brood X periodical cicada, an insect that emerges every 17 years. And this May is when they will appear again.

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Brood X periodical cicada(Maryland Department of Agriculture)

Governor Hogan’s announcement is to generate public awareness about the return of this insect.

“I encourage all Marylanders to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about these remarkable, harmless creatures,” said Governor Hogan.

They were last seen in spring 2004 and have since been living underground where they feed on sap from tree roots. They come out once they reach adulthood and soil temperatures reach approximately sixty four degrees fahrenheit.

When the cicadas emerge in May, they will shed their exoskeletons, grow wings, fly, sing, mate, lay eggs in trees, and then die off around June. In late July or early August, the eggs they laid will hatch into tiny white nymphs that will fall to the ground and burrow underneath where they will be until 2038.

“For a few short weeks this spring, many across the state will have a front-row seat to witness a natural phenomenon that happens nowhere else on the planet,” said Governor Hogan.

Different types of cicadas are referred to as broods and the Brood X cicada is the largest of all the broods. Brood X periodical cicadas are only found in the eastern United States.

Based on when they appeared in 2004 the cicadas will likely appear in Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, eastern Garrett, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Washington counties. Areas that are surrounded by older trees can expect to see a higher population of the insect.

For people living where there will be large populations of cicadas they can expect to see large numbers of them, hear the loud mating call that can reach 105 decibels, see them running into things as they are lousy flyers, and see billions of carcasses decomposing on the ground.

Cicadas are harmless insects that do not chew, bite, or sting. They are herbivores and only feed on trees. It is even safe for dogs to consume them.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture recommends that people do not use pesticides or insecticides to try to kill them, dispose of them in a compost pile, and wait until June to plant.

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