Although 2020 is still not halfway through, many people around the world are already fed up with bad or extremely rare phenomena. From a literal global pandemic to so-called murder hornets appearing in the US and the biggest waves of locusts in Africa, nature is bombarding us with all sorts of events this year.
Now for those in parts of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, a large swarm of cicadas are set to hatch simultaneously after spending 17 years under ground as larvae. Virginia Tech estimates that the numbers could rise as high as 1.5 million cicadas in specific regions.
Thankfully, these insects do not cause any direct harm to human beings. Experts say that other than the massive sound pollution it may cause for residents in the thick of the swarm, the cicadas are not hostile nor aggressive towards human beings.
However, the effect that the army of 1.5 million cicadas will have in the ecosystem is a bit more worrisome. Trees, orchids and vines are prime targets because of how the females lay their eggs. The distinct sound of the insects is the mating call from the males to attract the females.
Scientists are still unsure as to why a massive swarm like this one takes place every 13 or 17 years. Cicadas can be divided into two types. One type lays eggs and hatch every year. Others all lay eggs at the same time and spontaneously spawn, forming a massive swarm like this forthcoming one.
Although exact answers have not been given, some scientists believe that this is how the cicadas try to avoid predatory cycles. Despite their size and noise, cicadas are rather slow and lack any sort of defense mechanism against their natural predators, a long list from praying mantis to birds.
A professor of entomology from Virginia Tech said that other than the noise pollution and potential harms to the garden, the swarm itself should pose no physical threat to the human residents.
At least to Eric Day, the swarms are an amazing chance for him to further understand the insects. He said that he hopes people can appreciate the power and force of nature, and embrace this rare opportunity.
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