ATLANTA -- Days after storms and tornadoes battered southern states, they are bracing for another ominous sight overhead, National Public Radio reported Saturday.
Billions of Brood 19 cicadas are expected to begin appearing in early May. Also called the Great Southern Brood, their emergence across the American south is something that happens only once every 13 years.
This particular type of cicada is unusual for reasons other than the fact that they have been developing underground for the past 13 years. They also travel in massive swarms that can produce a buzz of up to 85 decibels, louder than the sound of a jet flying overhead.
The cicadas that will crawl up out of the ground in the next few weeks are the offspring of the bugs that appeared in 1998. After emerging from the soil, the nymphs gather in trees, shed their skins and almost immediately begin making a deafening sound that will last all day, from dawn to dusk.
It is not only the sound, but also the smell, of the cicadas that can be alarming to people who have never seen the swarm before. The bugs survive only for a few weeks, just long enough to find mates, ensuring another brood will emerge in 2024, before they begin dying off. Because they travel in huge groups, the stench can be overwhelming when they begin to die, experts say.
One entomologist, Johannes Schul told the Missourian, that some people worry the sound is so loud it can damage their ears. He said the cicadas don't cause hearing loss but their noise is known to wear on people's nerves.
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