After a 17-year-long hiatus, a new generation of cicadas will begin to show up in Maryland in the next few weeks, The Washington Post reports. As many as a billion of the underground insects are expected to fully emerge by the beginning of May and last until June.
Recognized as the “loudest insects in the world,” the red-eyed, clear-winged bugs were last seen around the mid-Atlantic region in the summer of 2004. According to Michael Raupp, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Maryland, this new invasion will be one of the largest groups of cicadas the country has ever seen.
“It’s called the Great Northern Brood,” Raupp told The Washington Post. “There will be literally billions, if not trillions, of these periodical cicadas emerging more or less simultaneously.”
The flying insects are only found along the eastern part of the United States, in states ranging from Georgia to Northern Virginia, as well as along the state of Mississippi, according to experts. Scientists expect the bugs to surface when the conditions are just right, “when the soil is 64 degrees and on a night that’s humid enough, but free of wind and rain.”
During a discussion with ABC News, John Cooley, who runs the Periodical Cicada Mapping Project at the University of Connecticut, explained the evolution process that takes place once cicadas come out of the ground.
“They’re going to emerge from that hole and go climb up some vegetation and undergo their final molt to the adult form, and that molting process takes about an hour and the newly emerged adult will be very pale when it comes out,” Cooley said. “And over the next couple of hours, it’ll finish very quickly finish expanding its body and then dark enough to have the adult colors.”