2024’s Summer Soundtrack

The rhythmic chirping of crickets, the drone of bees buzzing between flowers – these are the sounds people associate with summer. But get ready for a…loud twist this year, because in certain parts of the United States, a far more amplified chorus is about to emerge from the ground. This summer, for the first time since 1803, Brood XIII and Brood XIX, periodical cicadas with synchronized 17- and 13-year life cycles, are due to emerge from their underground slumber together, covering the landscape with their relentless buzzing. This phenomenon won’t happen again until 2245!

These fascinating insects spend the vast majority of their lives underground, feeding on tree roots. However, once every 13 and 17 years, a synchronized internal clock triggers a mass exodus. Millions of cicadas, driven by the instinct to reproduce, will dig their way to the surface. Trees will become covered with them, and the air will thrum with a constant drone that can reach volumes exceeding 100 decibels – louder than a lawnmower!

Despite the noise, the emergence of these periodical cicadas is a remarkable natural phenomenon. Their synchronized life cycle is a marvel of evolution, a strategy to overwhelm predators with sheer numbers. They also play a vital role in the ecosystem, providing a temporary feast for birds, reptiles, and small mammals, enriching the soil as they molt, and helping to prune trees with their feeding habits.

While the constant buzzing might drive some people batty, the cicada emergence is, for most people, a once-in-a-lifetime event and a powerful reminder of the intricate cycles and hidden wonders that exist in our natural world. So, this summer, when the cicadas return, embrace the racket. It’s a symphony of nature, and a truly unforgettable experience.

by Ashton Nunn

Published On: May 13, 2024