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'It's so exciting': Billions of Brood X cicadas about to emerge screaming from the cool, dark ground

Billions Of Cicadas Will Emerge This Year In Several States
Posted at 5:38 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 08:09:08-04

INDIANAPOLIS — It may be a little late due to unseasonably cool weather, but the Brood X cicadas are starting to appear.

As soon as the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees, the cicadas will begin to emerge by the millions and things are going to get loud, especially if you're in a wooded area.

Norman Burns, president and CEO of Conner Prairie, welcomes Brood X cicadas to his living history museum.

"Part of being on 1,046 acres side and having 3.3 miles to the White River running right through the middle of it is that you have nature here and so the cicadas are welcome," Burns said.

He just hopes their sounds don't drown out the Symphony on the Prairie and other events that will happen on the property.

"It's so exciting," Burns said. "We are all so excited about it."

Cicadas emerge in Fort Mitchell.jpg
Cicadas seen emerging in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, May 15, 2021.

Elizabeth Barnes, who works in Purdue University's Department of Entomology, said the emergence is their Super Bowl.

"This year, it's the emergence of the 17-year cicada, which is actually three different species of cicadas there," Barnes said. "They all look pretty similar, and they all look pretty cool compared to our normal cicadas. They've got these bright red eyes and golden wings. They are very dramatic-looking."

Barnes said the emergence is going to be a feast for all sorts of wildlife, which will have a ripple effect with some positive and negative side effects.

"We tend to see an uptick in populations of things like mice and rats that reproduce quickly, so that's a downside for us, but on the upside, we also tend to see fatter turkeys in the falls after a cicada emergence," Barnes said.

The bugs live underground for 17 years drinking from tree roots, so heavily wooded areas will be hot spots to see them in action.

"In the hot spots, there's going to be about 1.5 million per acre," Barnes said.

If their estimates are correct, that means about 1,569,000,000 will be on the property at Conner Prairie.

"But when you think about it, we had a worldwide health pandemic last year," Burns said. "We've got cicadas this year. If the White River were to part, then we would know that we're truly in Biblical times."

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