Trillions of the once-every-17-years species of Brood X cicadas are emerging from their burrows in the eastern United States.
The giant insects – about the size of a human thumb – are deafening with their mating calls (which can reach 110 decibels) and discard their molt shells everywhere.
The cicadas live in burrows in the ground, only emerging every 17 years from the middle of this month until the end of June.
The Brood X cicadas will arrive en masse across communities stretching from most of the mid-Atlantic to Midwestern states of America.
Unique to North America, the swarms were confused as locusts by the first western settlers in Massachusetts, who likened them to the swarms recorded in the Old Testament.
Expert Dr Michael Raupp said despite the noise and appearance, the insects are harmless.
“Cicadas are not going to bite, they’re not going to sting. They’re not going to fly away with small children and dogs like the monkeys in The Wizard of Oz,” he said.
While under the ground the cicadas feed on the roots of trees and only emerge, after their 17 years of growing, when the temperature is just right.
Their arrival provides a feeding frenzy for all sorts of other creatures, including birds, raccoons, frogs, opossums, snakes, and squirrels.
The insects that survive not being eaten will procreate, producing the next generation of Brood X cicadas that will appear in 2038.
The cicada live for between two and four weeks above ground, with the females laying up to 600 eggs on the top branches of trees.
When these hatch, they fall to the ground and the insects dig themselves into the soil and burrow their way to the tree roots.
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