Science teacher explains the return of the cicadas

Expect them to make some noise, Gilmore says


Anne Crabtree

Science teacher Mrs. Dawn Gilmore said wooded areas such as this one will have more cicadas when they emerge than will more urban locations.

Anne Crabtree, Reporter

After years of hiding underground, the cicadas are showing signs of coming back to the surface. 

Science teacher Mrs. Dawn Gilmore explained what is going to happen. “These cicadas are on a 17-year cycle. Every 17 years they emerge from the ground and they come out to mate,” she said. 

 “When they crawl out of the soil, they shed their exoskeleton and become cicadas. They stay in the trees and mate for about three weeks. They lay their eggs and burrow into the soil,” said Gilmore. Eventually, the eggs will then hatch and continue the 17-year cycle. 

Gilmore said the signs of emerging cicadas are “when the soil reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit and (there are) little holes (in the grass).” 

There are an estimated 10 billion cicadas that will emerge in the next few weeks, and the bugs have a loud noise level. Gilmore said, “It’s about the same decibel range as if you stood next to a hair dryer.”

The little bugs are harmless; nevertheless, they can take up a lot of a lot of space. Gilmore talked about her experience 17 years ago. “They were just everywhere. I remember walking through my yard and they would fly at my face and it was really overwhelming.”

Gilmore said that the number of cicadas flying around depends on where you reside. “If you live in a very wooded area, then there’s more cicadas because there’s more trees.” She said she heard about a story on the news where a woman couldn’t even see her deck because the cicadas were covering it.

The cicadas might land on decks and trees, but they also land on humans. Even though cicadas have big eyes, they are really bad at flying. “They land on you. I just could imagine being outside and then it just landing in your hair,” said Gilmore.