If you’ve been feeling like you’re going to lose it if you have to spend another day in quarantine then great news, I’m about to change your mood in a huge way.
Turns out 2020 is the year of “Brood IX”, a horde of more than 1.5 million cicadas that have been waiting underground for their big moment to emerge in the US and it has already started.
But before you start wondering if these are end times (I mean, it sure feels like it) then rest assured this super crazy event is actually pretty normal.
Ok, I mean we’ve got murder hornet, a pandemic, UFO’s, Australia is burning, and Megxit, so it definitely feels like shit has hit the fan but cicadas are supposed to be here. Yeah, I know, weird.
The periodic North American cicada is not new, it’s a native species across the United States that has a truly bizarre lifecycle.
They spend 13 to 17 years underground in a dark subterranean world where their entire lives are governed by internal clocks that tell them when to break through the earth and take flight.
Each brood – or generation – even has it’s own unique song that the males sing to attract females. And by sing, I mean screech at 90 decibels, which is about the loudness of a dirtbike or a lawnmower.
Once the cicadas emerge they basically fly around in a frenzy of mating, eating, screeching, and laying eggs before they die.
It’s a lot like what I imagine Coachella to be like if I had rich AF parents who could send my bored ass there but I digress.
If you’re a science nerd like me then you’ll recognize that this is a wicked cool event – to watch from indoors while safely eating nachos where these one-and-a-half-inch flying nightmares can’t touch you.
Quarantine starting to sound pretty damn good, huh?
So, when does this event kickoff? Well, that depends on where you live and what the weather is up to.
“It’s commonly in mid-May to the last week of May, depending on how warm it is, because the trigger for the day of emergence is the ground temperature,” Chris Simon, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut told VICE.
“The trigger for the year of emergence is that they’ve been counting, but the exact day of emergence is the ground temperature.”
As spring is unfolding across the country, even in the coldest spots, the soil is warming up enough for cicadas to begin their great migration toward the sky.
This year we can expect to watch Brood IX emerge across Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina but the real show will be next year in 2021 when Brood X, a much bigger cadre that will likely be in the trillions will emerge.
But let’s level ourselves for a second; no matter how many times scientists tell us that these events are normal, predictable, and part of the natural ecology of where we live – seeing trillions of scary as hell bugs emerge from the ground and swarm America is downright horrifying.
Twitter has taken issue with the news that swarms of cicadas are coming and the responses are hilarious.
Like this guy who has no problem being a Debbie Downer to the swarms’ plans to take over the world.
Wait until the cicadas come out after 20 years in the ground, just to find out summer has been cancelled.
— Cowboy ??? (@Talkbackatme) May 22, 2020
Or this lady who has figured out an accurate AF way to explain the pain of cicadas.
Summer in Texas is like being stuck with a very sweaty man in a hot car for 6 months and the car only has two radio stations: a/c compressor hums and horny cicadas.
— Janetalia ??? (@ottertitties) May 21, 2020
Or this guy who sees the cicadas as a sign of hope for what he can achieve in life.
If cicadas can sleep for 17 years and only wake up to scream, fuck, and then die, then so can I
— ? ??????? ????? ? (@ex_m0rtis) May 22, 2020
Or this guy who is about to hate cicadas, even more, when he hears what 1.5 million of these little assholes all sound like at once.
i hate the noise cicadas make bro. we get it. it’s hot as fuck
— Aaron wok (@nacho_fries_box) May 22, 2020
And finally, this lady who is now a convert when it comes to being annoyed with quarantine. Like her, I too am now totally OK with never ever leaving my damn house.
just found out the 17 year cicadas come back this year so i’m cool with being quarantined for the summer ??
— sarah wagner (@_wagnersarah) May 20, 2020
So, don’t worry America. Summers 2020 and 2021 will be loud, probably gross (all those molted cicadas), but at least you’ll have a valid reason to stay in, keep day drinking, and watching more Netflix.
Yay! In the meantime, check out this kickass BBC video that explains what a cicada swarm is and how they work.