Brood X cicadas are still leaving their mark

·2 min read

Although the buzzing of Brood X has dissipated, the cicadas are still leaving their mark. Those who live in areas of cicada territory may have noticed one lasting effect: dead clumps of leaves on trees, oaks in particular.

The Brood X cicadas, which emerge every 17 years in parts of the eastern United States when the soil warms up in spring, carve out space in tree branches to lay eggs. Each female cicada lays about 500 eggs. The eggs then hatch, the young cicadas fall and burrow into the ground to await their turn to emerge 17 years later. After the critters saw off their cicada nurseries -- which are often housed in thin, younger branches -- the branches often tumble to the ground.

"Sometimes the cutting is so severe that those branches are weakened to the point that with a little bit of wind, they'll just break off and fall to the ground," Brent Steury, National Park Service biologist, told AccuWeather National Reporter Sarah Gisriel.

Acorns will likely be less numerous because of the broken branches, according to Steury.

An adult cicada is seen in Washington, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Reporters traveling to the United Kingdom ahead of President Joe Biden's first overseas trip were delayed seven hours late Tuesday after their chartered plane was overrun by cicadas.The Washington, D.C., area is among the many parts of the country suffering under the swarm of Brood X, a large emergence of the loud 17-year insects that take to dive-bombing onto moving vehicles and unsuspecting passersby. Weather and crew rest issues also contributed to the flight delay. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The process leaves behind broken branches and clumps of leaves, but the fallen foliage doesn't harm the trees -- the trees and the cicadas actually get along quite well, Steury explained.

And the cicadas have a lot to offer the ecosystem. Dogs, rodents, reptiles, birds, fish, insects -- not to mention people -- all chomp down on the clumsy creatures.

"If you enjoy Thanksgiving, imagine what all of the animals are thinking every 17 years when they get the bounty of cicadas," Steury said.


However, even though there is an abundance of cicadas, the creatures aren't immune from extinction, Gisriel reported. Broods in Connecticut and Florida have gone extinct.

Meanwhile, the annual so-called "dog-day cicadas" are back in western Maryland, according to an announcement from Catoctin Mountain Park. Though labeled as annual, the emerald insects take two to three years to develop. These bugs are even bigger than Brood X, and they like to scream too.

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