May Will See a Rare Double Brood Cicada Emergence- What Will be the Impact?


The anticipated emergence of trillions of cicadas from two broods, marking the first such event in over 220 years, may sound like a biblical existential threat at first glance. However, according to entomologist Beth Kyres, the impact of this phenomenon on the nation this summer is expected to be minimal.

Cicadas are recognized by their distinctive bumbling flight; the nymph castings children eagerly collect, and their loud drumming on hot summer days. Beth Kyres, a seasoned entomologist with a PhD from the University of Kentucky in Entomology, who currently works with the U.S. Forest Service in California and the Pacific Islands, hails from Ohio, a state known for its cicada emergences. She is anticipating an exciting time for cicada enthusiasts this year.

Beth says the largest known periodical cicada group, Brood 19, will emerge with Brood 13, a rare event that has brought notoriety to the spectacle this year.

The broods, designated with numerical identifiers by entomologists decades ago based on whether they emerge in 13-year or 17-year cycles, follow a precise schedule dictated by temperature degree days. Beth explains that broods 13 and 19 will surface according to this unique timing, each specific to regions across the United States. Beth says you’ll start to see them as far west as the very eastern parts of Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma and East from there. However, she adds that 17-year cicadas tend to be more northern-focused around the Great Lakes states, while 13-year cicadas are settled more in the southeastern states.

While the emergence of these rather large insects may prompt an uptick in noise complaints and inconveniences in local neighborhoods, Beth reassures that they pose little harm, doing nothing more than bouncing off of cars driving through the states experiencing the emergences, getting into homes through windows, and keeping you up late with their loud drumming.

Contrary to popular belief, cicadas primarily feed on hardwood trees and cause minimal damage, mainly to the tips of branches. Crops and nursery plants are not on their menu, which is good news for agricultural regions.

While here in California, the state does have its own cicadas, yet they emerge annually and are commonly referred to as ‘dog day cicadas’, emerging during the final days of summer. However, their presence is not as pronounced or troublesome as those on the eastern side of the United States.

Beyond their biological significance, cicadas hold a place in world culture. Due to their resonant drumming, they often appear in folklore as symbols of rebirth and even spiritual messengers. In some cultures, they are considered edible delicacies.

Beth remains hopeful that she will witness the dual emergence this summer, emphasizing that such an event is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for insect enthusiasts and shouldn’t be missed.

Photo by Bill Nino on Unsplash