Brood X Cicadas: 17 years ago to now


(WTAJ) — Seventeen years ago, there were no modern smartphones, George W. Bush was elected for his second term, Facebook was invented and Joe Murgo started this third year at WTAJ. One of his assignments, covering the Brood X cicadas.

So what were the cicadas doing during the last 17 years? Many believe they are hibernating, but that’s not true. The nymphs were alive and active. They were digging tunnels and eating sap through the roots of trees.

Many believe the 16 cycles of the trees going from dormant to full foliage is the cue for them to emerge and pass the torch to a new generation.

Why is there a mass emergence? It’s a matter of survival. These insects are close to the lowest level on the food chain. What eats them? Pretty much everything with a mouth including pets, birds, rodents, marsupials, fish, insects, and even humans. For a list of cicada recipes, click here.

With so many predators, the only chance for survival of the species is for billions to emerge at once. Many types of cicadas come together in groups called Broods. Brood X is the largest and the one that covers the largest part of our viewing area. Centre County and some other areas to the north have to wait 4 more years for Brood XIV. Other parts of our region don’t have mass emergence but have some smaller amounts of annual cicadas.

There are a few benefits and problems from the cicadas.

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