17-year cicadas emerging in Southwest Virginia

Published: May. 22, 2020 at 5:07 PM EDT
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You may have seen some cicadas popping up these last couple weeks. That's because the 17-year cicadas are back in our area.

Every 17 years, the ground becomes flooded with creepy crawlies, called 17-year cicadas. Virginia Tech University entomologist Eric Day says if you haven't seen some already, you can expect to see more with drier weather from now into June.

"The 17-year cicada is very unique. It's something that only occurs in Eastern North America, so it is a real rare treat for us to be able to see it. Entomologists from around the world come here to see them, so it's a pretty amazing thing," Day said.

Amazing and mostly harmless. These Cicadas aren't venomous and they don't bite or sting. The only real damage they can do is on orchards.

"They could damage small fruit trees, that's an issue they need to protect those trees, but for most people, it's just a noisy curiosity of nature," Day said.

Noisy to say the least. Expect to start hearing loud siren-like sounds as more of these cicadas emerge from underneath.

"You get what they call chorusing, so many of them, an overwhelming noise . . . it sounds like 100 chainsaws in your backyard," Day explained.

And be aware--you may start hearing crunch after crunch when you're out riding a bike.

"That is true. I mean the areas have a huge emergence, they will be all over the sidewalks, all over the roads, it will just be an outrageous number of them," Day said.

Our 17-year cicadas will be back underground by the end of June, but a different family of this same cicada species will be hitting Northern Virginia next summer.

"Just that 17-year life cycle, it's a prime number, it's unusual, there's just nothing else like it in the world," Day said.

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