FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne should expect to see an invasion of the Brood X cicadas sometime within the next week or two, according to a local expert.
“There’ll be so many of them it’s overwhelming,” said Bill Horan, a Purdue Extension Educator of Agriculture & Natural Resources in Wells County. “You’ll see hundreds of them on the side of a tree or on the ground as they come out.”
In “heavy emergence areas,” Horan said Northeast Indiana residents can expect to potentially see a million and a half Brood X cicadas per acre. To put that in perspective, it’s about one cicada coming out of the ground every two inches.
He said that when rain hits the ground it softens the soil and makes it easier for the cicadas to emerge.
“So, if we get any rain this week I would expect [to see them] within a day or two after that rain,” said Horan.
The Cicada Brood X is a variation of the insect, called a periodical cicada, which emerges every 13 or 17 years, depending on the species. Therefore, the emergence of them will be sporadic depending on the landscape changes that occurred in any given area over the last 17 years.
The last time this specific type was seen was 2004.
“The theory is that they’ve developed this way because when they emerge, they’re very easy targets for predators,” said Horan. “So, by having so many emerge all in one year, they basically overwhelm the predator population and that assures that some of them survived, so it’s kind of a survival strategy.
They will emerge as a nymph and hang on the side of a tree or building until they shed their final skin and develop into an adult. This is why Hoosiers should also expect to see shedding skins lying all over the ground.
The Brood X’s only live for about four weeks, so Horan expects the invasion to last for about a six-week period.
“They’re not all going to emerge on the same day,” said Horan. “We’ll start to see them emerging and then there’ll be kind of a peak emergence and that’ll maybe last maybe two weeks from the beginning of the first emergence to when the last one dies.”
However, it could be a noisy six weeks.
“They’re going to be loud. They can produce over 100 decibels of noise, which is very loud that can hurt your ears if you’re too close to them,” said Horan. “The males go up to the top of the tree and they’ll make this loud screeching or … buzzing noise, and it can be very loud, and that’s to attract the females.”
The Brood X’s have already been seen in southern Indiana, which Horan said is because the south typically warms up faster. Locally, according to the Cicada Safari app, there have already been sightings near Wabash and in Steuben County.
Horan said it’s likely that pets will be eating the Brood X cicadas. However, they aren’t poisonous so it shouldn’t harm the animals. They also do not bite or sting.
They only feed on tree sap, so they won’t cause any damage to trees, flowers of vegetables from that. However, they could cause damage from laying their eggs.
“On a big tree, you might see a lot of dead tips of branches, but it’s not going to hurt really the health of that tree,” said Horan. “But on small trees that are only a couple years old, like if you’ve got a lot of fruit trees that or maybe just been planted in the last year or two, majority of their twigs are going to be very small, it could potentially kill those trees, because you have so much physical damage from the branches getting cut.”
He suggests getting a cloth or netting and wrapping you plants like a “lollipop” to avoid any damage to your landscape.
Horan said the annual cicadas will start coming out in late July or August.