17-year cicadas: They’re coming, but that’s not a bad thing

Digital Originals

Over the course of the next two weeks, our region can expect to see the emergence of the 17-year cicada. It’s just a loud bug to many of us, but its appearance occurs only a few times each generation, perhaps we can give them 3 weeks since their days above ground are few.

“They don’t live much longer than a couple of days at best, because their main purpose is to mate, reproduce, and die,” says Ryan Bridge.

Known to the Midstate as “The Bug Man”, Ryan is eagerly waiting the arrival of the 17-year cicada.

“Cicada nymphs come out of the ground without their wings expanded. So they crawl up, hang, push up out of their shell, expand their wings, dry their wings, and then they can fly. And the only purpose is to find mates,” says Bridge.

Ryan remembers the last two times the Brood X cicadas emerged. He is anxiously anticipating a bumper cicada year but explains they are not going to be everywhere.

“If your property has been bulldozed in the last 17 years, or tilled or destroyed, or if its been disturbed in the last 17 years, you’re probably not going to see cicadas. They’re only down 8 to 12 inches deep.”

“So in your backyards, in your gardens, in your home. You’re probably not going to see cicadas coming up out of the ground. But if you live among forests, woods, undisturbed areas, county parks, state parks, rail trails where it hasn’t been disturbed, a great place to find 17-year cicadas. “

So how do we know when its time? When will we start to see the cicadas?

“Just ’cause there are holes in the ground, doesn’t mean they are cicadas. Until you see the shells on the nearby trees, until you start hearing the adult cicadas calling, don’t go looking for cicadas. When they come out, we’ll know it.”

After 17 years sucking tree root sap underground, these bugs are loaded with protein. Fish, birds, and many animals will feast on the cicadas over the coming weeks providing a mid-spring feast for all kinds of wildlife, and even a few brave humans. You can count on seeing cicadas on The Bug Man’s dinner plate later this month.

“17 year cicadas, if you grill them, they taste like popcorn,” says Bridge.

There’s probably a reason why Mother Nature doesn’t allow these cicadas to emerge every year, but it sure will be a fascinating sight to see….and hear. So don’t miss the opportunity, because the next time this happens will be the year 2038.

When it comes to the safety around the cicadas, “Totally harmless. Safe to hold. Engage this, embrace it. Get your kids involved in it. It’s a really cool opportunity. Seventeen years before we see this again,” says Bridge.

Watch Chief Meteorologist Eric Finkenbinder’s “Cicada Forecast” tonight on abc27 news at 5, 5:30, 6, 7, and 11!

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