© 2024 WSIU Public Broadcasting
WSIU Public Broadcasting
Member-Supported Public Media from Southern Illinois University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

If you're scared of bugs, you might want to stay inside this spring

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you don't like bugs...

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Nope.

MARTIN: ...Especially, say, big, noisy bugs - you might want to plan a lot of indoor activities this spring because, as the temperature warms, trillions of cicadas are preparing to emerge from the ground in your backyard, at least if you live in one of their neighborhoods.

JONATHAN LARSON: It is a huge swath of the eastern half of North America that's being affected. We will see them from southern Wisconsin all the way down to Georgia.

FADEL: That's Jonathan Larson. He's an entomologist and co-host of the podcast "Anthro-Pod (ph)." He says these cicadas are known as periodical cicadas - different from the annual cicadas you see every summer.

MARTIN: They are grouped into different broods, like Brood X, which swarmed parts of the East Coast in 2021. Spending the first several years of life underground, the cicadas feast on tree sap before they are ready to emerge and mate.

LARSON: These are species that have been below ground either for 13 years, in the case of Brood XIX, or 17 years, in the case of Brood XIII.

FADEL: And this year, Brood XIX and Brood XIII will crawl out of the earth at the same time.

LARSON: It's the first time that this has happened - this pairing - since Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States.

MARTIN: Chris Simon is a research scientist at the University of Connecticut. She specializes in 13-year and 17-year periodical cicadas.

CHRIS SIMON: When they first come out of the ground, they're still a little bit soft and vulnerable. They climb the trees or whatever vertical object they can find. Then they start shedding their skin.

FADEL: And after about a week, the cicadas start to sing.

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADAS SINGING)

LARSON: It's as loud as a jet engine, and that's what attracts females to the tree. And then the females and males will pair off, and the male will sing a courtship song. I assume "Wonderwall." That's probably a good choice.

MARTIN: After mating, the male cicadas quickly die off. Females die a few days later, after laying their eggs.

FADEL: Whether you're excited or terrified to witness this natural phenomenon, Simon says it's worth watching.

SIMON: It's a really fantastic spectacle, and it's not seen anywhere else in the world. So I'm hoping that everybody will really appreciate it and value it and have fun with it.

MARTIN: Ooh, it doesn't sound like that much fun.

FADEL: No, it does not.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As a WSIU donor, you don’t simply watch or listen to public media programs, you are a partner. By making a gift, you help WSIU produce, purchase, and broadcast programs you care about and enjoy – every day of the year.