Spring 2021 is an exciting year for entomologists and bug lovers alike, as Brood X periodical cicadas are set to emerge after being underground for 17 years. Their numbers will total in the billions across 15 U.S. states. You may already be seeing signs of the emergence, as the nymphs reside about 4-8 inches below the surface and make a tasty meal for moles.
Most of a periodical cicada’s life is spent underground feeding on tree roots. After 17 years, the nymphs begin to emerge once the soil 8 inches below the surface reaches a temperature of 64 F. They typically emerge after a heavy rainfall around late April to mid-May. Over the course of a few days, thousands of cicadas will emerge, overwhelming their predators to satiation and still leaving thousands more to sing, mate and lay eggs to start the process all over again.
Annual cicadas, which emerge each year, are black and green. However, periodical cicadas have black bodies, orange wing veins, bright red eyes and are 1-2 inches long. Brood X is comprised of three species of periodical cicadas.