May 3, 2024 - News

The hum of millions of bugs

Data: USDA and University of Connecticut; Map: Will Chase/Axios

They're here. Turn your ear to the outdoors and you can hear their hum. Look to the ground and you'll see their shells.

What's happening: There are 15 surviving periodical cicada broods, each identified by Roman numerals. 2024 is the first time in 221 years that Brood XIX (on a 13-year cycle) and Brood XIII (on a 17-year cycle) will emerge together.

Reality check: A 13-year and 17-year brood emerging at the same time is called a co-emergence, and it's actually fairly common, occurring every five to six years.

  • Adjacent co-emergences, where the two broods overlap geographically (like this year), are less common, happening every 25 years on average.

Be smart: Periodic cicadas (like Brood XIX) and annual cicadas, or the ones you hear buzzing in our trees every summer, look different.

  • Periodic cicadas are slightly smaller, with black bodies and wings with orange marks, plus red eyes.
  • Annual cicadas are bigger, with black or dark green bodies and black eyes.

What's next: Axios Visuals fact-checked the insect hype and found that no matter how you crunch the numbers, 2024 will likely offer just a taste of the cicada spectacles to come.

Check out the full project from Axios Visuals to see which broods will hit North Carolina and when

Graphic: Maura Losch and Kavya Beheraj/Axios

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