Though we’re accustomed to the periodical winged insects’ return every 17 years, a rare double-brood event will bring a swarm of billions of cicadas to the U.S. in 2024.
The double-brood event is a result of the synchronization of a 13 and 17-year cycle. The last time such a rare event transpired was in 1803—221 years ago! In fact, Thomas Jefferson was the last president to see these two brood sync up, noted Gene Kritsky, an entomologist at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.
The two cycles, known as Brood XIII and Brood XIX, won’t align at the same time again for another 221 years after this year, so it’s surely a once in a lifetime occurrence.
Don’t know too much about the fascinating insect? Well, let’s get into the basics about cicadas. The periodical insects spend the majority of their time underground. This is where they get nourishment from tree roots. Then, whether it’s a 13-year brood or 17-year brood, the cicadas will make their appearance above ground to find a mate. This usually occurs when spring hits and temperatures are above 60 degrees. The above ground mating search lasts for about one month and can be easily recognized by the insects intense chorusing.
The high-pitched screech cicadas make is probably the most detestable thing about any brood event. The mating song can reach up to 100 decibels! However, some may argue that the most displeasing thing about cicada’s emergence is the carcasses they leave behind. Once the insect comes above ground, it sheds its nymph exoskeleton to mature into its adult form and unroll its wings.
During the month-long mating period, the cicadas will rush to lay their eggs before they die. That means by mid-summer the cicadas will have already died off. Beware, New Yorker’s won’t get to directly experience the phenomenon. If people do wish to witness the double-brood they should head to states like Virginia, Tennessee, Illinois and Alabama.