Prime Time for Cicadas

Researchers are tracking down why some types of cicadas emerge in vast numbers only once every 17 years.

By Emily Sohn, 00:00 AM May 18, 2004

If it hasn't happened yet, it could occur any day now.

The first signs are little holes in the ground in yards, orchards, and fields. Then, one warm evening, big, red-eyed bugs start crawling out of the holes.

The next morning, thousands upon thousands of these black, winged insects, known as cicadas, cover sidewalks, mailboxes, tree branches, and roofs across certain areas of the United States. The loud throb of their alien-sounding, high-pitched screeches fills the air.

For the first ti...

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