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Get ready for a loud spring: 17-year cicadas emerge this year

Updated: Jan. 29, 2021 at 5:29 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Do you remember the spring and summer of 2004? If so, you probably remember hearing a loud sound in your backyard courtesy of cicadas.

Now, 17 years later, the periodical cicadas known as Brood X are coming back.

“This year is the big one,” explains Mount St. Joseph Professor and Entomologist Gene Kritsky. “This year they are going to be coming out in droves.”

That’s right, 2021 is the year of the cicadas.

You may remember back in 2004, the last time Brood X or the 17-year cicadas emerged here in Cincinnati and 15 states across the country.

“This is a once in a generation event,” continues Kritsky, “If you’ve lived in Cincinnati all your life you remember what they were like when you were a kid. You remember that occurrence. You will tell that to your kids 17 years later and so on. From an ecological perspective, a lot of good comes from cicadas.”

Kritsky says while some people find insects a nuisance, they can have many benefits.

The cicadas provide food for other animals, nutrients to trees, and the holes they emerge from creating natural aeration in your yard.

The frequency of a lawnmower is the same as the sound male cicadas make when they are ready to mate. That can cause trouble when trying to cut the grass.

“I’ve had people who work in the lawn industry tell me that it’s just incredible,” remembers Kritsky. “You’re riding the mower, and all of a sudden you’re swarmed by all these cicadas flying in. It’s really quite startling in some cases.”

The cicadas will begin emerging in large numbers during mid-May when the soil temperature has reached 64 degrees and after a big rain.

In 2004, Kritsky says as many as 250 cicadas were reported per square yard in extreme cases!

The cicadas will last for six weeks before beginning to die off. But don’t worry, not only will we see their offspring in 17 years, there is another brood coming in 2025.

You are also encouraged to download the free app Cicada Safari. It was created by Kritsky and Mount St Joseph. You can upload pictures and your location when you begin spotting the insects.

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