Cicada Takeover: Where you may see and hear Brood X in the Western Carolinas

Original Reporting

(WSPA) – A massive brood of cicadas is getting ready to emerge in the U.S. after 17 years underground.

Where they unearth is more specific than you might think, and you’ll know you’re in their home turf the minute they start their deafening mating call.

”It’s kind of neat to start out with but then it gets annoying later on,” said Jaime Rutherford, who moved to the Carolinas when the last brood emerged in 2011.

After all, cicadas are the loudest bugs in the world, some groups reaching 100 decibels, enough to drown out a lawn mower.

Clemson University Entomologist Dr. Eric Benson studied that Great Southern Brood of 2011.

”The periodical broods that we have are pretty much an east coast phenomenon,” he explained.

Today, Benson is the go-to person in the Upstate to set the record straight about one of the largest and longest living insects in the world.

”What’s cooler than a bug that has been underground for 13 or 17 years that emerges? And it kind of is an indicator of the health of your environment. If they can’t survive, what has changed?” he said.

So how do periodic cicadas live for so long? When they fall from trees and burrow, they attach to roots and feed off the nutrients without harming the trees. When they mature and emerge they provide food for hundreds of animals and eventually nutrients to the soil.

The first lesson in Cicadas 101, they’re mostly good for the environment. Unlike Locusts (which are -not- the same) Cicadas don’t ravage vegetation.

Benson also explains there are annual cicadas and periodical cicadas. The periodical broods come out every 13 or 17 years, and unlike the larger annuals, periodicals have red eyes.

“When people live through a true periodical group emergence, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life,” said Benson.

Brood X (ten) in yellow on this US Forestry Map, will likely emerge this month (May) in it’s southern region which includes a small part of North Carolina, in Cherokee County.

It’s the soil temperature that determines exactly when the cicadas will emerge. They rise up over a 2 week period when the soil hits 65 degrees.

But in just three years it will be the Upstate’s turn. And Benson will be calling on citizen scientists once gain, this time with better technology, as Brood XIX (19) makes a roaring return after 13 years in South Carolina (and other states).

”Even back then (2011) the cell phones were not as good and I with some other researchers would go to every site to confirm it and usually people were right but sometimes we found they were not,” said Benson.

In 2011 his research landed a discovery. He learned “15% of Cicadas that come out of the ground don’t actually make it to become adults.”

Who knows what 2024 will bring.

Rutherford already knows what to expect.

“It’s 24-7, it’s a constant hum,” said Rutherford.

But at least this time he’ll have a heads-up along with those noise cancelling AirPods.

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