Return of the Cicada

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WAYNE TOWNSHIP — If you are outside you might hear a loud chirping sound. The chirping comes from cicadas.

The insects are about an inch long and can be heard singing all summer.

But this year you’ll hear another chorus of singers. A different type of cicada that only comes out once every 17 years is hatching this year. They are hatching all across northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

Kim McGovern lives near Cressona. She says the grass was covered with white bugs and didn’t know what to think. She was witnessing the 17-year cycle of cicadas, sometimes call locusts.

“We came out the front yard and there were cicadas all over the grass, in our feet, and they were hatching and dropping, one two, three coming out of the trees, it was just unbelievable,” McGovern said.

Experts say the cicadas live underground for 17 years and then emerge. Minutes later they lose their outer shell. The males make noise to attract females to mate.

“It’s kind of a background noise. It’s not like the cicadas that come out every summer and they go ‘chickee,chickee,’ that goes on day and night,” said Susan Hyland, Penn State Schuylkill master gardener.

The bugs can get everywhere.

After the cicadas mate, the female deposits its eggs on twigs and plants.

“They need to drape them or cover them. Something that will keep that insect from getting to the new growth and they need to do that for the next month.”

The eggs hatch and the creatures again burrow into the ground and will emerge 17 years later.

For more information on cicadas, click here.