Millions of Cicadas are Scheduled to Emerge in Parts of Ohio this year

%22Seventeen+Year+Cicada+On+A+Leaf+From+Virginia%2C+USA.Shot+with+cell+phone.%22

Getty Images/iStockphoto

“Seventeen Year Cicada On A Leaf From Virginia, USA.Shot with cell phone.”

Lucy McIntire

After 17 years, millions of cicadas are expected to emerge from underground this year across the Eastern United States and parts of southern Ohio, including Cincinnati and Dayton. They will surface in mid-May and June for the first time since 2004.

There are several types of cicadas, including Brood X, which are scheduled to appear this year. Brood V last appeared in 2016 and was the last time Northeastern Ohio saw large numbers of periodical cicadas. There are several more types of 17 and 13-year cicadas across the Eastern US.

While it is unknown how exactly cicadas know to emerge from their homes a few feet into the Earth every year, scientists do have a theory. Because underground cicadas feed on the sap of tree roots, researchers believe that they are able to pick up chemical signals as the trees lose leaves and cycle through the seasons.  Then, once the correct number of years have passed, something tells the cicadas to emerge.

Some cicadas do, however, get it wrong. They are known as “laggers,” which emerge in the wrong year. Another thing to note is the effect climate change has had on these insects, as they have begun to emerge earlier and earlier every year as the temperatures rise.

For now, in Northeastern Ohio, there are no 17-year cicadas, just annual “dog cicadas.” Cicadas are harmless, but they are known for their signature non-stop sound they make throughout the summer.