Kentucky Is Being Warned About Historic ‘Cicada-Geddon’
The last time we had a newsworthy influx of cicadas in my neck of the Kentucky woods, I felt kind of left out. That's because they weren't really much of an issue out at our place. Heck, I could barely hear them where we were. That was the year of Brood X--NOT a Marvel villain, by the way.
Kentucky Will Get the 'Double Brood' Treatment This Spring
Those feelings of loneliness might not present themselves in 2024, as another round of cicadas is warming the engines and preparing for a May invasion. And this time, the noisy creatures will be "doubling down" as part of a historic event. (I have a feeling I'll be craving that "loneliness" in May and June.)
That's right. If you felt short-changed because we only dealt with one measly cicada brood in 2021, you're in for a real treat. And it's a "treat" that nobody on Earth has ever experienced. In 2024, Kentucky will deal with a 13-year brood--Brood XIX--and a 17-year brood--Brood XIII--simultaneously. Double the cicadas, double the fun, right? It's an anomaly humankind hasn't experienced in 221 years. They're calling it "cicada-geddon."
Here's What This Rare Cicada Event Means
Entomologists at the University of Connecticut, who must be giddy with anticipation, explain the significance of this "collaboration":
Generally, a 13-year brood emerges in the same year as a 17-year brood roughly every 5-6 years, though most of the 17-year broods are not in contact with a 13-year brood, so the different cicadas are clearly separated in space. A co-emergence involving adjacent broods of different life cycles is something that happens only roughly every 25 years. Of course any two broods of different life cycles co-emerge only every 221 years.
They ARE called "periodical cicadas" for a reason. (It has nothing to do with magazines.)
Cicada Safari informs us that we are looking at a late April/early May arrival for these two broods, and they are actually asking us for help. When this double-brood invasion begins to unfold, we can use the Cicada Safari app to help them map the two broods' arrival, turning a potentially annoying event into something that could be fun...or not.
The Effects of Such a Large Cicada Invasion
University of Maryland entomology professor Daniel Gruner tells us that such a large cicada emergence could yield a negative trickle-down effect in this way:
Many bird species switched to feed on cicadas, which doubled caterpillar populations and their damage to trees. Because the Brood X periodical cicadas emerged in the billions across 15 states, their indirect ramifications were geographically extensive.
And that was just in reference to a single brood.
I imagine it will be fascinating, but those cicadas will also be hungry, so they're certainly a detriment to plant life.
And your ears. Don't forget your ears. Two cicada broods at once? Take THAT, motorist with the bass turned up too high on your car stereo.
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Gallery Credit: Andrea Vale
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Gallery Credit: Andrew Vale