Here’s one more thing to look forward to in 2021: the emergence of the 17 year cicadas.

They’ve been hiding underground, biding their time until they emerge en masse to fill the summer with their signature loud buzzing. New Jersey is one of 15 states to house this collection, known as Brood X. These are different from the annual cicadas, and Brood X is the largest and most widely distributed broods; expect billions of the insects in the affected states.

So what have the cicadas been doing these past 17 years? Scientists say that they’ve been feeding on tree sap from roots and avoiding predators. It’s believed that the periodic cicadas have evolved to hide from prey and then emerge in such numbers that even with predation, the species will have great enough numbers to survive. Once their internal clocks tell them that the time is near, they wait until the soil approaches 64 degrees. Once it does, they start making their way aboveground.

The last time they emerged, in 2004, they were sighted starting around May 13, so expect a late Spring serenade. Once they come out, the males “sing” to attract a female. They then mate and the offspring burrow back underground to start the cycle over again. While some people find the buzzing unpleasant, the cicadas pose no threat to humans other than being in such great numbers as to be a nuisance. They typically don’t come inside and they don’t bite, although in large numbers they can stress trees. They are also a high-protein, low-fat snack; yes, there is a cicada cook book, called Cicada-licious, if you’re interested.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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