Millions of Brood X cicadas to emerge in North Carolina after 17 years underground

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Brood X sounds like the title of a science-fiction movie.

And in some parts of the eastern United States, it will look like one when millions of the cicadas in Brood X emerge from the ground.

Here in North Carolina, annual cicadas can be heard making their screeching and clicking sounds in the late spring and early summer.

But there are some cicadas that only emerge every 17 years.

And this is one of those years.

"It'll probably be more heavily concentrated towards the mountains. We'll definitely see some of that brood here in Wake County," said Basil Camu, a master arborist and owner of Leaf & Limb tree service in Raleigh.

Last year, he announced that Leaf & Limb would no longer cut down trees, a small but principled effort to protect the environment.

Camu said although we may not see the swarms of cicadas here in the Triangle that they will likely see in the mountains this spring, we will definitely have more than just annual cicadas when Brood X emerges.

We are used to hearing them more than seeing them, but this year we'll likely see them more than most years.

They are odd-looking before and after they molt and tend to make some people uneasy.

But we shouldn't fear major damage to trees where the insects hang out, according to Camu.

"It's very small amount of damage that they'll do. I mean, we're talking about some leaves, some twigs, well within threshold," Camu said, "Any, most normal trees can withstand that sort of damage. It should not be anything to worry about at all."

In fact, all insects including cicadas have environmental value, according to Camu who said, "Insects are very important to our ecosystems. They form one of the important backbones for how ecosystems function because they feed so many different kinds of birds and small animals."

And among those animals that eat cicadas are bats, which are a struggling species.

"If you're thinking about what is the best system for controlling mosquitoes in my yard, it's definitely a bat. Get a bat box. A bat will eat thousands of mosquitoes every single day," Camu said.

So all hail the cicadas, which feed bats, which in turn also eat a lot of mosquitoes, one of the peskiest insects around.

And Camu is in love with the cicadas' song.

"That droning noise you hear when it's real hot in July," he said. "And then you hear the back and forth. So quite honestly, if anything, I think they're just classic sound of summer."

And this summer, expect even more of that classic sound from Brood X.
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