Photo: Laura Gilchrist / Unsplash
Prepare yourselves. Brood X, or Brood Ten, cicadas are scheduled to make an appearance this spring after a 17-year hiatus. This generation of cicadas can be found in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, eastern Tennessee and several other areas throughout the eastern United States. The cicadas will begin to emerge from their slumber when the time, or rather, the temperature, is right. For these storied insects, the ideal temperature is 64 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll be able to recognize them by their black bodies, red-orange eyes and gold-veined wings.
Brood X cicadas leave the dirt for one reason: to mate. The males attract females by “singing.” You'll know it when you hear it; the sounds they make can rival the decibel levels of a lawnmower. Once mating has occurred, the male will then die. The female will find a thin branch, which she will cut into and lay her eggs. At this point, the adult females pass away. The new cicada nymphs (young cicadas) will drop from the trees, burrow into the ground and start the 17-year cycle all over again.
The good news is, these insects pose little harm to humans, animals or your home. That being said, they can be quite the annoyance. Here are a few ways you can prepare yourself and your cabin for the oncoming Brood X appearance.
- Protect your smaller trees. Although large trees should be safe, smaller trees (4 feet in height or less) may need some help. Because the female cicadas cut slits into branches to lay their eggs, young trees may not be able to withstand the season. You can protect these smaller trees by covering them with netting, tulle, cheesecloth or some other lightweight material that will protect your trees while still allowing them to get the sun and water they need.
- Wait to plant. According to the University of Maryland Extension, adult cicadas will be active for around eight weeks. They suggest waiting until fall to plant new trees and shrubs.
- Consider noise-canceling headphones or earplugs for mornings you want to sleep in. There is no way to avoid the loud buzzing sound the males create. If you are sensitive to sound or find the mating calls annoying, you’d do well to use headphones to block out the sound.
- Grab a shovel. When the adult cicadas pass, their bodies can be found all over the ground and will begin to smell. You can dig a hole to bury the remains to avoid unpleasant odors.
- Schedule noisy lawn work or projects involving power tools for dawn or dusk when cicadas are less active. The humming/buzzing of power tools can confuse cicadas and before you know it you’ll be covered in a swarm.
While there are a few unpleasantries about the appearance of the Brood X cicadas, for the most part they avoid humans and will not attempt to come inside your house except by accident. Viewing a swarm of these insects doesn’t happen every day. It’s a rare occurrence in the circle of life, and quite the natural event to behold.