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First Brood II Cicadas Arrive In D.C. Region

It's mating season for cicadas, which means we should start seeing nymphs underfoot soon.
Michael Raupp
It's mating season for cicadas, which means we should start seeing nymphs underfoot soon.

Some of the first Brood II cicadas to hit the D.C. region emerged from the ground this past weekend, says University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp.

After 17 years underground, swarms of cicada nymphs are getting ready to return to the East Coast. It's expected to be the largest cicada gathering in the Mid-Atlantic since Brood X in 2004.

Raupp told NPR he estimates there could be as many as 1 billion cicadas per square mile. Last seen in 1996, the full Brood II cicada population will emerge once the ground temperature hits a steady 64 degrees at about 8 inches below ground.

"Many nymphs emerge at night and make a mad dash for vertical structures such as trees and shrubs," writes Raupp on his website, Bug of the Week. There, the cicadas will shed their exoskeletons, sing, fly and mate.

But areas hugging the coast will be spared from the swarm. Scientists say cicadas don't burrow in sand, so beaches and shorelines will be relatively quiet. Anne Arundel County and southern Maryland are the closest areas to the coast likely to experience cicadas. 

Not to be confused with annual cicadas gatherings, which appear later in the summer, red-eyed brood cicadas emerge periodically. Unlike locusts, which come in swarms and destroy crops, cicadas don't do much damage. The next time we'll hear their distinctive screeching will be in 2021 when Brood X reappears. 

Michael Raupp discussed the Brood II cicadas and other local insects on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on Monday.

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