The cicadas are coming! Here's what to expect

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News
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If there is any one species that knows how to make an entrance, it's the Brood X, a regional population of cicadas that emerges from underground every 17 years. This summer, they may make parts of Michigan their home.

A loud symphony of buzzing can be expected as millions are anticipated to make an appearance in regions throughout southern Michigan, including the Ann Arbor area.

Cicadas are expected to emerge in parts of Michigan by June, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Michigan State University entomologist Gary Parsons said soil temperatures eight inches down need to reach 64 degrees for cicadas to emerge. Right now, soil temperatures are in the low 50s. 

A female cicada lays eggs on a tree branch in this  photo from the University of Illinois. Cicadas will emerge in the next few weeks around Michigan as soil temperatures heat up.

"For entomologists and nature lovers in general, this is kind of a unique (thing) that many people will get to see. It'll be a lot different going down South where they're coming out ... it may be kind of a bust up here," Parsons said. 

The cicadas have black bodies with striking red eyes and orange-veined wings. Despite their fearsome appearance, the bugs are not considered a pest due to their harmless nature. In fact, Parsons said cicadas won't be much of a bother to people. 

"For several weeks, you could have cicadas right around your house, or home or yard," said Parsons. "I have only experienced them in one spot and that was in the northeast area of Ann Arbor ... there was just this singing, buzzing noise all around ... there was literally millions of them there."

If residents see thousands of insects at some point, the insects would be focused on sucking fluids from flowers and emanating their loud calls to mate. 

"They won't migrate around so unless people are moving right in the area where all the cicadas are emerging, you probably won't even notice them," Parsons said. "They don't bite or anything. They're just going to be a nuisance." 

Mating is one of the main reasons for the cicada emergence, and many of the female insects will be implanting their eggs into small tree and shrub branches, which could damage or even kill the plant, Parsons said. 

To combat this, homeowners can put fine netting over shrubs and small trees that will prevent the bugs from laying eggs. 

The Brood X species of cicadas are expected to come out areas of the Midwest, Southeast and the mid-Atlantic in the United States. Places like Maryland and Washington, D.C., can anticipate a greater volume of the bugs compared to Michigan, where Parsons said it's up in the air if the state will see cicadas in many areas. 

Entomologists theorize that cicadas stay underground for 17 years as a survival tactic to make sure predators don't get too familiar with the species. While under ground, cicadas survive by sucking sap and fluids from tree roots. 

Cicadas are sometimes mistaken for locusts, which make similar loud sounds but are more grasshopper-like in appearance.

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