After 17 years below the ground, the latest wave of cicadas are ready to emerge across the Eastern Seaboard, including here in our region.
Cicadas come in different waves known as broods. Virginia Tech Entomologist Eric Day says this year, it's brood 2's turn to emerge. Brood 2's range stretches from east of the Blue Ridge to just west of Richmond -- meaning residents of Bedford, Campbell, Pittsylvania, Halifax, and other centrally located counties will bear the brunt of the noisy insects. Likewise, residents of the Roanoke Valley, NRV, and the Blue Ridge likely won't see them.
Day says the first reports of emerging cicadas have started coming in here in Virginia.
"We've had a cool, rainy spring and that may slow them down a little bit," said Day. So the emergence may be extended for a little bit of a longer period. But generally from about early May to mid-June is when we're typically going to see the 17-year cicada."
When the cicadas come out, they come out in full force -- Day says there can be up to 1 million of them per acre.
"The numbers can be very big," said Day. "People often use invasion. Well the thing to think about, they've been there all along, they're just emerging now."
While the numbers and the noise they make can get annoying, Day says there's not much you can do to get rid of them and it's best to let them run their course.
"If they're on the side of your house, grin and bear it is the best bet," said Day. "When you get these big emergences, you'll literally be stepping on them, there will be so many. They're going to be out for a few weeks and then it will all be over with. And we don't have to worry about them again for another 17 years."
Day says although they have a tendency to freak people out, cicadas are essentially harmless. They're not poisonous and the don't bite or sting. The only real threat they pose is to trees. They lay their eggs in tree branches, which can cause minimal damage to an older, developed tree, but seriously hurt young ones.
One benefit though -- if you have the stomach for it -- Day says cicadas are great source of protein and are perfectly safe for humans and pets to consume. Many websites offer recipes for cicadas.
"I did try them," said Day. "And they were cooked in rice wine with a little bit of garlic and sesame oil. And they tasted like rice wine, garlic, and sesame oil. So I guess it was a pleasant experience to eat cicadas."