911 call frenzy as cicadas invade towns in multiple states

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Whether you love them or hate them, a double brood of cicadas has begun to emerge from the Earth. Residents of the eastern United States have been eagerly awaiting the 2024 periodical cicada emergence, featuring a co-emergence of a 13-year and 17-year brood.

It appeared to start last week, as the internet saw the first cicada videos of the season from South Carolina. This week, they have also been spotted in North Carolina and Illinois.

Sarah Weinberg awoke on April 18 to find the insects everywhere on her gazebo, posting a video to TikTok with the caption "HELLLLP...is this my life now?"

"The 1st cicada video! It's like the beginning of a horror movie," commented "LD" in reply.

"Just imagine their point of view: 'Hey, who put this gazebo here? It wasn't here when I went in the ground 17 years ago,'" joked "MLFoxjr."

Local residents are also calling the police about cicada noise in Newberry County, South Carolina, just to the north of Saluda.

"We have had several calls about a noise in the air that sounds like a siren, or a whine, or a roar," the sheriff's office posted on Facebook. "The sound is cicadas. Although to some, the noise is annoying, they pose no danger to humans or pets," the sheriff's office said. "Unfortunately, it is [just] the sounds of nature."

Cicada Broods XIII and XIX are expected to emerge together for the first time in over 200 years. Thomas Jefferson was president the last time these broods co-emerged. (File Photo by Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE)

The sound of a swarming cicada brood, which can include billions of individual insects, can be as loud as a jet engine.

The emergence is right on time. According to the USDA, soil temperatures in northern South Carolina and Georgia between 8 and 20 inches are about 63 degrees Fahrenheit; cicadas are known to emerge when the soil temperature at 12-18 inches depth is 64 degrees.

Technically, these two broods haven't emerged during the same year since 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was president and the Louisiana Purchase took place.

Despite rumors of both broods emerging in the same place, the University of Connecticut says ne'er the twain shall meet. However, there will be two broods this year, making for a wider area. The emergence from Maryland to Oklahoma and Illinois to Alabama will generate trillions of bugs across those areas.

The map below shows the cicada broods emerging this year: Brood XIII and Brood XIX.

Cicadas emerge only during prime-numbered year spans, 13 or 17. They don't understand math, of course, but natural selection has made their emergence happen in only prime-numbered yearspans to avoid predators with three- and four-year life cycles, such as birds and wasps.

Cicada 2024 Emergence Map (Data from U.S. Forest Service)

Cicada 2024 Emergence Map (Data from U.S. Forest Service)