Brood X EmergesApril 15, 20212 min read
With billions of cicadas set to emerge from the ground this spring, etymologist and professor of biology Dr. Vikram Iyengar is looking forward to what he calls “this rare opportunity” for scientists and onlookers alike.
Scientists are referring to this massive group of cicadas resurging in North America as “Brood X,” since they are the tenth group to emerge since 1898, when scientists began tracking the cycle. “Some cicadas are annual (the ones we hear every summer), but the largest broods come out every 13 or 17 years,” Dr. Iyengar explains. “Some have guessed that, since most cicada predators (small rodents, etc.) have 4-year cycles, having 13- or 17-year cycles offsets that, making it hard for these predators to “predict” when the cicadas will reappear.”
Dr. Iyengar reinforces that these clever bugs are nothing to be too concerned about. “There isn’t much you can ‘do’ about them…they will just be ubiquitous for a couple weeks, so we should all just take it in and try to enjoy this.”
In the Philadelphia area, Dr. Iyengar expects there to be “thousands of cicadas [near Villanova’s campus alone].” He continues, “They are really just going to fly around and call loudly.”
As the Northeastern United States prepares to enter the third summer of an infestation of spotted lanternflies, Dr. Iyengar “unfortunately” doesn’t think that it will do much long-term damage to the invasive lanternfly populations, “given that [the cicadas] are only around for a short period.” There might be an upside, however. “cicadas also feed on plant juices (like the lanternflies), so there should be a brief period where the cicadas outcompete the lanternflies.”
Though it’s difficult to predict when exactly Brood X will make their appearance, Dr. Iyengar says that for those living in the region, “it could make for a very memorable event!”
To speak with Dr. Iyengar, email firstname.lastname@example.org