Cicadas are coming soon. University of North Georgia professor explains what to expect

ATLANTA — An extraordinary natural event is going to happen in several states in just a few weeks. Some are referring to it as a “cicada-pocalypse” with trillions of cicadas set to emerge this spring.

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Cicadas are harmless insects that spend most of their lives underground. They wait for the soil temperature to reach 64 degrees to emerge.

But they are noisy and the sheer numbers and the noise they generate can reach 107 decibels.

“Literally in somebody’s yard there’s thousands and thousands of them all singing to attract a mate at the same time,” said University of North Georgia biology professor Evan Lampert.

There are cicadas all over the United States, so you may be wondering what makes this emergence so special.

“What’s special about the eastern U.S. is it has what we call periodical cicadas. And so periodical cicadas really emerge in vast, vast numbers, like trillions numbers, like vast numbers, over large areas of the eastern U.S. and they do this once every 13 years or 17 years,” Lambert explains.


Lambert says the 13-year brood, also known as the Great Southern brood, will emerge for the first time since 2011. It’s the largest brood and it stretches across the Southern United States, including here in Georgia.

Cicadas are helpful to the ecosystem. They provide a good food source for many animals from insects to small mammals, even fish.

“So literally a single person’s back yard could have hundreds of thousands of them so then if you extend that to the eastern US, the numbers are just - like even Georgia might have billions by itself.”

In some parts of the country, there will be two broods of cicadas emerging for the first time in more than 200 years. That won’t happen again until 2245.

They are expected to appear around Mother’s Day on May 12.

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