Brood X cicadas come up, but burrow back underground until warmer weather

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A few cicadas are emerging at Highbanks Metro Park, but turn around and tunnel down until conditions are right for Brood X.

“Our first one came out Friday, just one, and it was up near the nature center,” said Chrissy Hoff, Senior Naturalist at Highbanks Metro Park. “The rest of these have not come out.” She knows this because “…there are no cicada exoskeletons along the tree, so we expect that in the next two weeks.”

Brood X are about 4-6 inches underground right now, and they are tunneling up to create the pathway to emerge. Crouch near the soil, says Hoff, and you can sometimes see a waiting cicada in its hole. The soil has to be about 64 degrees to trigger the brood to emerge all at once.

“You see the holes, and then you see perhaps a chimney come up when the soil is loose,” Hoff explained. “They wiggle up to get the hole ready, and then wiggle back down so they can come up when the temperature is ready. They will crawl up onto the tree, break out of their exoskeleton and become flying adults.”

All the insect-eating birds will thrive on the cicadas. “You would expect this year to have a really good high number of fledglings, and they all do pretty well.”

To help scientists track Brood X, go to where you can download the app for Apple or Android.

Cicadas operate on a 17 year cycle. The female laid her eggs in the trees, the eggs dropped down, and for 17 years the larvae fed on roots beneath the ground. The next brood will fly in 2039.

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