After 17 Years, Cicadas Scheduled to Emerge from the Earth Along the Eastern Seaboard. Will They Be Emerging Here in Western MA?
This year, for the first time since 1996, a Magicicada brood will emerge from the ground all across the eastern United States. This special species – unlike other cicadas – emerges every 17 years with the entire species growing and developing at the same time, creating synchronized cycles of growth, reproduction, and death. These insects go through a complicated and specialized series of stages of development as a group, taking 13-17 years to grow into adult cicadas and emerge from the ground. They will lay eggs for the next generation simultaneously, continuing their synchronized cycle of regeneration.
Much like frogs and salamanders, the cicadas will emerge from the ground only when the temperature is right! Magicicadas require a soil temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit, extending as deep as eight full inches into the ground – meaning that cicadas will show themselves much earlier further south, while southern New England soil continues to warm up. Families can track and predict the burst of bugs by monitoring the temperature of the soil in their backyard – while western Massachusetts isn’t expected to have a huge number of cicadas (check out the web site: Massachusetts Cicadas), their existence is quite likely given that Connecticut and the Hudson River Valley in New York are both home to Magicidadas.
In order to predict the bugs’ appearance in your yard, track the soil temperature using a basic thermometer, which can be purchased online or at a gardening specialty store. Families can also build their own cicada detectors, which will not only measure soil temperature, but will track the creatures’ movement! Families with older students can learn valuable STEM skills by building a detector, and can use the data that they collect to contribute to cicada tracking and research. RadioLab, an online resource for STEM-related projects and information, offers instructions for building and operating your own cicada detector, and also has information about submitting collected data. Follow the instructions to become amateur entomology researchers, and help contribute to the recording of an unusual scientific phenomenon!