What is the ‘Cicada-apocalypse,’ and is it happening near you?

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If you had “insect swarm” on your list of reasons why 2024 might be a challenging year, congratulations! For those not yet in the know, brace yourselves—summer in the U.S. is about to get a lot louder. A historic “double-brood” event is currently underway, and it won’t conclude until every last male cicada has sung its song.

This momentous occasion marks well over 200 years since the last time this many cicadas emerged from their subterranean sanctuary. Despite their appearance resembling something straight out of a horror movie, these tiny creatures are actually beneficial to local ecosystems, serving as an excellent source of protein and minerals—for those brave enough to munch past those beady red eyes, that is.

The Cicada apocalypse is fast approaching, coming soon to a state near you in 2024.

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Periodical Cicadas are a regular, albeit unsettling, feature of North American life. These inch-long insects spend 13-17 years underground, traversing through five juvenile stages before clawing their way to the surface. Like clockwork, they emerge in broods, shedding their skins (a delectable treat for birds) and ascending to the trees. While one brood of cicadas is enough to send shivers down your spine, this year presents a rare spectacle—two broods will emerge simultaneously: the 17-year Brood XIII in the Midwest and the 13-year Brood XIX in the Southeast.

Millions of these captivating creatures are set to emerge, filling the air with their distinctive cacophony until their mission to repopulate is complete, culminating in their mass demise. While they may be a nightmare in appearance and sound, these bugs are not harmful—just incredibly impolite.

With just four weeks to find a mate and reproduce, they have little time for niceties, as one unfortunate TikToker discovered. Hair covers, hats, or face shields are recommended to shield against their swarms, which can become entangled in longer hairstyles and collide with anything in their path.

The good news? Cicadas do not sting, bite, or carry diseases. Homeowners may need to contend with potential damage to young trees from the eggs laid by females, but otherwise, cicadas pose no threat. They don’t even eat during their brief above-ground stint, though they do get thirsty. For the adventurous, they offer a high-protein snack, reportedly tasting like asparagus.

Fortunately, cicadas will only be a passing internet terror for most of the world. However, for residents of certain states—particularly Springfield, Illinois, expected to experience the highest number of convergences—life is about to get a lot louder.

But there’s a silver lining: once the cicadas begin their romantic interlude, they have just four weeks before they drop like flies.