Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Brood X Periodical Cicadas FAQ (nps.gov)
95 points by ag8 27 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 42 comments

I was in college on the east coast of the US last time this brood emerged. More than any class reunion, I have looked forward to coming back to experience this wild and bizarre phenomenon.

COVID scrambled those plans.

The next time brood X comes out, I'll be middle-aged. Most of my life will have run its course. I hope the cicadas will help me make peace with that fact.

I don't think people usually start coming to terms with death by their mid-fifties. Where I live they mostly seem to be training for their first triathlons.

Eh, I'm in my 30s and have made peace with th fact that I will die one day, and probably sooner than I hope.

We all must live life on life's terms.

> I'll be middle-aged. Most of my life will have run its course.

What are you defining as middle age? If you were in college 17 years ago, aren't you basically middle age now, or at least pretty close? I certainly hope your life hasn't already run its course :).

How did Covid affect your plans? Every airline is currently flying at full capacity, and of course if you're within driving distance that hasn't ever been an issue. Just go. Or not, the cicadas won't care.

It was the summer I graduated high school. I have fond memories of Brood X. Life is much different 17 years on. It’s also a marker I was awaiting the last couple years. Come to find out that my move a couple hours away means I’m no longer in the brood x region. My wife has no such memories. Apparently there were no cicada broods where she grew up.

Had never experienced something like these cicadas 17 years ago. Epic, biblical. Have been waiting ever since. Last few days I've seen a few here and there, but nothing in comparison to what I was expecting. Will this take some time to ramp up?

Yes, it will take time. In my yard here in Reston, VA, they’ve been emerging in small but increasing numbers each night for the past seven days. I was just outside a few minutes ago — it looks like like tonight will be a big night for them!

That said, it also depends on where you are. They can only grow in soil that remained mostly unmolested (no construction) for 17 years. Recently constructed neighborhoods will not have many cicadas. Also, they feed on tree roots, so areas with few trees will have few cicadas.

I think it really depends on where you are. Even within their range, in some places they've been wiped out from pesticides, or tree removals, or got their signals mixed up and emerged early/will emerge late.

I can say that I was in Silver Spring, MD for Brood X in the spring of 2004, and for a few days you couldn't take a step without squishing 20 cicadas. Trees looked like you had dropped acid because they were literally covered >50% of their surface area in wiggling cicadas. I started carrying an umbrella because I would be picking them of of myself for a half hour from the mere 20' walk from my car to my front door.

> I can say that I was in Silver Spring, MD for Brood X in the spring of 2004, and for a few days you couldn't take a step without squishing 20 cicadas. Trees looked like you had dropped acid because they were literally covered >50% of their surface area in wiggling cicadas. I started carrying an umbrella because I would be picking them of of myself for a half hour from the mere 20' walk from my car to my front door.

This is how I remember it...

yes. it hasn't really started yet. I've seen some sightings locally on reddit but nothing here yet. You will know it when they are here.

I'm a bit perplexed as to why cicadas have been in the news lately. It's my understanding that almost every year there's a brood that emerges. In fact, I think it's more noteworthy that 2023 will be the first year in almost a decade without the emergence of cicadas.

This brood is orders of magnitude larger than the others. I grew up in Maryland and I don't think I've ever seen a cicada up close except for now and 17 years prior. Sure I heard them sometimes in the summer, but this is something else.

I'm in Maryland too. Are you seeing them in any quantity?

Yeah, but it's patchy. There's a couple big trees down the block from my house where each one has hundreds of those exoskeletons on them, there's literally a carpet of the exoskeletons around them. While my backyard has 6 trees and I've yet to notice even one out there. I've seen a few dozen live ones, but all seem to be freshly matured. Most of them didn't have their wings fully unfolded yet, and haven't seen a single one flying or heard a single one calling.

Thanks. Sibling comment [0] says they are seeing many right now. So maybe tomorrow morning...

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27190262

I’m in MD as well... there’s a big maple tree in my yard that’s attracted probably hundreds of them at this point, lots of holes in the ground around it from when they emerged, but they haven’t started singing yet, or even moving tbh. And hundreds is a lot, but not “covering the entire tree” by any means. Just a surprisingly large number of giant, docile bugs in the corner of the yard.

Update: just went outside to check (it’s dusk)... there are thousands more coming out right now. It’s gonna be nuts tomorrow morning.

Thanks for the update. Will look more tomorrow. Exciting...

We got nothing in Calvert County!

Some broods are very localized and small. I believe Brood X is going to be a large brood for many areas East of the Mississippi. 2024 may be a bonkers year for SE Missouri/NW Kentucky, when two broods will come out around the Mississippi. I live in Kansas City, and 2014 was a brood year for the area. We won't be seeing much until 2024. Many of my friends have been posting about Brood X, here in KC. But I've been having to educate them about the locality of brood X.

The 2004 brood in KC was a good size. Totally freaked me out, since I had recently moved to the area, and had never seen a cicada in my life. At first, I thought they were alarms going off.

I was a kid when the last brood X came out(Washington DC area) and it's epic, like something out of a movie. They literally darken the sky, and you sweep mounds of their carcasses off your driveway and sidewalk. We used to grab handfuls of them and throw them at each other in school, put them down our friends shirts as pranks, etc.

There are non-periodical cicadas that have an annual lifecycle, but the ranges of the various broods of periodical cicadas do not overlap a whole lot. The Great Eastern Brood is the biggest of these and its range roughly corresponds to the most densely populated region of the country, so most people who experience periodical cicadas experience these ones.

If you are where brood x is coming out there will be enough of them that you can scoop them up by the shovel full.

Larger prime numbers have larger broods (maybe). This brood is the largest, most successful brood

Whoa, I had no idea about the math involved:

> "But the 13- and 17-year recurrence of cicada emergences may be an even savvier strategy. Both 13 and 17 are prime numbers, meaning they're divisible only by 1 and themselves. This means that emergences rarely overlap with predator population cycles that occur in shorter intervals. For example, if cicadas emerged every 10 years, they'd be susceptible to predators whose population boomed on a cycle of one, two, five or 10 years. If they came out every 12 years, they'd be a tasty snack for any predator on a cycle of one, two, three, four, six or 12 years. Thirteen years, though? Only one and 13. The same goes for a 17-year cycle."


There are broods every year, but every 17 years there’s a whole different type with red eyes that comes out, is my understanding, in addition to the normal broods.

Part of it is media bias. Lots of media centered around NYC and Washington DC.

The decibel level is incredible.

My first experience these two cycles ago when I flew into Texas and wasn’t expecting to hear one in a tree next to me. It was surreal because it sounded like a loud kitchen appliance or lawnmower and I couldn’t find the source.

Took me a long time to realize it was a bug on the tree that I had seen moments after I started looking.

Cicadas are the sound of summer for me. They're pretty ubiquitous in the eastern regions of Australia[1].

I remember collecting them and their shells as a kid.

With names like Green Grocer, Cherry Nose and Double Drummer[2], the hunt was always on for how many different types could be found over the summer.

[1] https://www.cicadamania.com/cicadas/tag/c-australasiae/

[2] https://www.cicadamania.com/cicadas/australian-cicada-names/

We changed the title from "Brood X cicadas, which come out ever 17 years, come out in the Eastern U.S.", in keeping with the site guidelines.

If you want to share why you posted an article, that's great! But it's best to do so via a comment in the thread. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so...


> If you have a shellfish allergy, you may have a cicada allergy if you eat them.

Both interesting, and slightly nauseating. I've eaten bugs myself, but cicadas seem very unappetizing.

Prime lifespans help to avoid lifespan synchronization with predators. But resonance is important too.


I'm in Southeastern PA and am super excited to see them this year. I was camping two weeks ago in central PA and hiking last week and haven't heard any yet. I've gotten super into ambient audio recording and really want to record these bineurally so everyone can enjoy this bizzare, loud phenomenon.

Highly recommend this RadioLab episode - https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/septe...

(turns out they have more about cicadias!)

Not sure why the FAQ doesn't mention New Jersey. I think the Wikipedia page's range is more accurate:


I remember a brood came out one year when I was a kid, we lived in the country. I loved insects and it was the most insane thing I ever saw. Millions of them. It was like something out of a sci-fi movie.

Obligatory Silicon Valley cicadas reference: https://youtu.be/KUxMY77i0q4

Anticipating some good cicada clickbait out of this remarkable event:

"Cicada Coin: Value doubles every 17 years. How to start saving."

"Why we need to have a conversation about cicadas."

"How to talk to your children about cicadas."

"You can eat cicadas. But should you?"

"Neighbors complain Florida man shooting at backyard cicadas with shotgun."

"Cicadas destroyed my marriage."

"What cicadas can tell us about life on Mars."

"Can cicadas spread Covid? Experts disagree."

"DC high school principal repeatedly calls 911 over cicadas, is suspended."

"Cicadas and home insurance. Insurers inundated with questions."

"Trump eliminates cicadas from Mar A Lago golf course. Fascism or prudence?"

"Mr. Cicada new Marvel hero. You won't believe his super powers."

"Cicada-covered corpse alarms health officials; prompts new questions about insect invasion."

"Palmer Lucky transforms battlefield with AI cicadas. Pentagon takes notice."

How does an article on nps.gov have so many grammatical errors?

> There are currently 12 broods of 17-year cicadas and 3 broods of 13-year cicadas. The 13-year cicadas are not found near D.C. Two broods have gone extinct (one near Connecticut and one in Florida). The broods have migrated northward since the last ice age.

Based on this I suspect it’s an eighth grade report that they just posted. Sounds like the list of facts I used to compile.

Budget cuts?

I'm joking, but ... hm

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact