After a 17-Year Hiatus Living Underground, Periodical Cicadas Are Making Their Comeback

Image of a periodical cicada.
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These cicadas are not the ‘annual’ cicadas we see annually.

After 17 years of living underground, periodical cicadas are expected to emerge all over parts of the Eastern U.S. and Illinois this summer. 

The specific brood of cicadas, also known as Brood X or The Great Eastern Brood, are no larger than a paperclip and have large eyes and wings. They are expected to emerge in parts of Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Illinois this summer, People magazine reported.

Other areas expected to see periodical cicadas include Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a cicada mapping site from the  University of Connecticut,.

Cicadas are members of the superfamily Cicadoidea and are distinguished by their stout bodies, broadheads, clear-membraned wings and large compound eyes, according to National Geographic. 

The insects are harmless to people, plants and property and are found mostly in urban and rural areas wherever hardwood trees are present and have been described as beetles with wings sticking out, or "beetles that turn into flies," according to the University of Minnesota Extension.

There are more than 3,000 species of cicadas, that fall into two categories: the annual cicada and the periodical cicada. Cicadas are also known for their buzzing and clicking noises, which sound like a noisy hum when they all gather, and some are more musical than others.

The annual cicadas come out each year and appear more social than their counterpart, the periodical cicada, which lives underground and emerges once every decade or two, and seem more like a homebody. And, their claim to fame is that they have a penchant for disappearing entirely for many years, only to reappear in force at a regular interval, the National Geographic reported.

Experts say the cicada has been a source of fascination since ancient times and regarded as a powerful symbols of rebirth due to their unusual life cycles in many cultures, National Geographic reported. 

When the temperature in the soil reaches 67 degrees, the periodical cicadas will tunnel their way to the surface, according to the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at the University of Tennessee.

Brood X are likely to surface mid-May or early June. The last time they were seen was in 2004, the Washington Post reported.