The cicadas have arrived and some of them are “sex-crazed salt shakers of death.” (Watch above)
After 17 years of dwelling underground – that makes them the same age as Facebook. Brood X has begun cropping up in states on the East Coast. Scientists expect trillions of the red-eyed bugs to leave their underground dwellings in the next few weeks; they synchronize their emergence to increase the odds of finding a reproductive partner. Once above ground – they wait for the soil to reach 64 degrees Fahrenheit – they’ll mate and die in a matter of days.
The males arrive a few days before the females – although both sexes quickly shed their exoskeletons and wait for wings to grow. Males emit a mating call that can be “as loud as a lawnmower.”
The Nature Conservatory describes the rest of the life cycle:
After they’ve found a tree or shrub to land on, the cicadas will mate and lay eggs at the end of branches. Newly hatched cicadas will then chew through the branch tips, causing them to fall off, carrying the young insects back down to the soil where they will spend the next 17 years. Brood X will next emerge in 2038.
Cicadas have no natural instinct to evade predators, so they don’t appear afraid of people.
Alarmingly, a fungus has infected some of Brood X, turning them into ‘zombies.’ The Washington Post, citing Brian Lovett, a West Virginia University researcher, provides the grim details:
About a week after the bugs emerge, signs of the fungus start to appear. The spores force the back half of the insects’ bodies to fall off, Lovett said, revealing an eraser-like mass of fungus. As the cicadas continue to walk and fly, apparently oblivious to the situation, the spores fall off and infect other insects — just what the fungus is trying to provoke.
The infected cicadas have an increased sex drive. The way they shed and spread the fungus is the basis for the “salt shakers of death” nickname.
Cicadas are expected to emerge in 15 states: Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
— Bethany Adamec (@BethanyAdamec) May 20, 2021
Brood X cicadas are emerging in IN pic.twitter.com/H213UyetHY
— Brian Calvi (@BrianCalvi) May 17, 2021
— Taran Hook (@TaranJHook) May 19, 2021
— Daniel Gruner (@GrunerDaniel) May 15, 2021
? Spotted in Washington, D.C : your friendly red-eyed screaming neighborhood #cicada. They've arrived… have you seen them around?
— The Nature Conservancy (@nature_org) May 17, 2021