After Murder Hornets, Millions of Loud, Crop-Killing Cicadas to Emerge in US after 17 Years

Millions of cicadas are expected to return to Southwest Virginia, parts of North Carolina, and West Virginia next week.

After multiple sightings of murder hornets led to panic across the country earlier this month, it seems like America will have to deal with another insect that could cause a significant noise problem in the south -- millions of cicadas are pegged to return to the US South after a 17-year cycle of hibernation.

After spending 17 years underground, millions of cicadas will be emerging in parts of the United States. Pixabay

Every 17 years, cicadas emerge from the ground and take to the skies in Southwest Virginia, parts of North Carolina, and West Virginia. Scientists believe as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre may emerge in the above-mentioned areas of the American South, Virginia Tech said in a statement.

Unlike murder hornets, cicadas are harmless to humans, but the loud noise they emit could become a nuisance for residents in the area. "Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas emerging at once may have a substantial noise issue," said Eric Day, Virginia Cooperative Extension entomologist in Virginia Tech's Department of Entomology.

That noise is "the mating call of the males who are attempting to attract females." The statement also added that the number of these noisy cicadas will peak in early June, and will most likely be gone by July. If you want to hear how loud these bugs can get, here's a video of one such emergence of the periodical cicadas in 2007 in Park Ridge, Illinois.

Threat to Crops, Plants

The emergence of cicadas is not only a problem for your eardrums but also crops and trees. According to the university, cicadas can pose danger to orchards, juvenile trees, vines, and crops. The insects implant their eggs onto branches or vines, causing them to wither. If too many cicadas lay eggs on a small tree, it can even kill the plant.

"Cicadas can occur in overwhelming numbers and [crop] growers in predicted areas of activity should be watchful" Doug Pfeiffer, a professor at Virginia Tech's Department of Entomology said in the statement.

A Unique Natural Phenomenon

Cicadas are large, clear-winged insects and it is still a mystery why these periodical insects emerge every 17 years but researchers believe it will be a unique natural phenomenon to witness, one that hasn't occurred since 2003-04 in the American South.

"Hopefully, any annoyance at the disturbance is tempered by just how infrequent -- and amazing -- this event is," Day added.