Roughly 1.5 million cicadas are due to emerge across some states in the southeastern U.S. The insects, which burrow underground for 17 years at a time, are due for a comeback, as Accuweather reported on Wednesday. At least they're not murder hornets.
The cicadas are expected in states including Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Known for their distinct sound this particular species, known as period cicadas, emerges either every 13 or 17 years, spending most of their lives underground. It's a technique that's thought to have evolved as a means to avoid predators. Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association, spoke to the outlet about the insects.
"When it comes to their unique life span, the 17-year life cycle of periodical cicadas is thought to have evolved as a strategy to avoid predation, which makes it difficult for other species that use cicadas as food to sync with their own life cycles," Fredericks explained. He also said that after years of study, certain subsets of their population have gotten on a cycle that their emergence can be predicted with reasonable accuracy.
This sentiment was echoed by the University of Connecticut researcher John Cooley, who maps the species emerging patterns for Magicicada, a cicada-tracking website."Presumably, the broods also reflect historical weather events or climate fluctuations that got some cicadas out of sync with their neighbors."
The Magicicada website also stresses that while distinctively noisy, cicadas are entirely harmless to humans. They can, however, cause significant damage to trees during their time above ground, which may be welcome news considering that May was also the month that the U.S. saw the arrival of the aforementioned murder hornets.
The murder hornets, more commonly known as the Asian giant hornet, were first spotted by beekeepers in Washington. They're capable of killing up to 50 people a year in Japan, thanks in part to their have mandibles shaped like a shark's fin. They're also capable of wiping out a honeybee hive in mere hours by decapitating bees, then using their thoraxes to feed their offspring. They also come equipped with long stingers with dangerous venom that can make it through a beekeeping suit.
Though the murder hornets have received quite a bit of attention in the news cycle, May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois said most people's fear is entirely unfounded. "The scariest insects out there are mosquitoes," Berenbaum explained to CBS News. "People don't think twice about them. If anyone's a murder insect, it would be a mosquito."