Maryland could be ‘epicenter’ of Brood X cicada explosion this spring, professor says

A 17-year cicada-pocalypse is fast approaching – and Maryland will be ground zero when Brood X swarms across the mid-Atlantic and beyond, according to a UMD professor.

Mike Raupp – an emiratus entomology professor at the University of Maryland – told Baltimore’s WJZ recently that Maryland will be the "epicenter" of the cicada emergence set to arrive this spring.

READ MORE: Billions of cicadas set to emerge in eastern US after 17 years

Scientists at Virginia Tech say that as many as 1.5 million cicadas will emerge per acre as they infest regions including Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

There are two types of cicadas; annual and periodical cicadas.

Annual cicadas emerge in July and last into September. They are fast moving, and greenish in color. 

MORE HEADLINES: Cicadas in Virginia, West Virginia to emerge this month after 17 years

Periodical cicadas, like those in Brood X, appear every 13 to 17 years from May to June. They are red-eyed, sluggish, and emerge by the millions. 

Brood X is the 17-year group living in the capital region and will be emerging next spring.

Cicadas may also emerge in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia this spring.

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Brood X will begin to emerge once the ground reaches about 64 degrees Fahrenheit, experts say. It’s believed that the periodical cicadas’ 13-or 17-year cycles have happened for millions of years. 

There are several species of periodical cicadas that emerge in different years, classified by scientists as different "broods." Each brood is isolated in a certain region and only emerges in 13 or 17-year cycles, according to Michigan State University entomologist Gary Parsons.

The cicadas spend most of their lives underground feeding on sap from tree roots.

"It is thought that by having the long life cycles, cicadas have prevented predators from specifically targeting them for food. Then by emerging in the millions all at once, they are too numerous for any predators that do eat them from ever wiping them out. There are so many of them that lots of them will always survive," Parsons wrote.

There are some in the brood that can emerge off-schedule, too. Cicadas seen in May 2017 in D.C. and the surrounding counties in Virginia and Maryland, as well as in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, may have been "stragglers" of Brood X, according to the University of Maryland’s department of entomology.

Last year, brood IX emerged from underground in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

When the billions of cicadas emerge after nearly two decades underground, they have a short lifespan above ground — flying to the treetops to mate. The males sing to attract females, and their offspring will bury themselves into the ground for another 17 years, only to continue the cycle in 2038.

The good news is that cicadas aren’t harmful, but may get in the way.