Cicadas ready to surface after 13 years

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A particular sound will fill the air of south Louisiana in the coming weeks, the sound of cicadas.

Their emergence this summer is pretty rare. It only happens every 13 years.

"We have quite a good cicada collection, actually," said Dr. Chris Carlton, director of the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum. "There's Tibicen."

Carlton really likes bugs, which is a good thing because he deals with a lot of them. However, there's one in particular he's really looking forward to seeing.

"It's exciting to me as an entomologist because it is an infrequent and fairly spectacular, if you're at the right place at the right time, a fairy spectacular event to witness," Carlton added.

A certain group of the periodical cicada - brood 22, or the Baton Rouge brood, is about to emerge after 13 years underground. Millions of insects will all emerge at once, triggered by the temperature of the soil.

"Now, once the insects do emerge from the ground, they have one goal: to find a mate and lay eggs. The process takes a little over a month and then they die. We won't see the periodical cicada again for another 13 years," he explained.

Former reporter Allen Tumey covered their last emergence in 2001. The eggs those cicadas laid are the insects now surfacing.

"The first sign that they're back in 2014 will be all that noise that they make," said Carlton.

The males are responsible for the noise, as they attract their mates.

"The individual calling sounds have been described variously as sounding like a UFO (whatever that sounds like), or someone trying to start a weedeater," Carlton added.

This time, scientists want the public's help finding the exact spots where they emerge. After all, they only get to study them every 13 years.

"Look and see if they are indeed the black insects with the red veined wings and the big red eyes and if they are, log on to and document exactly where that locality is located," Carlton stated.

They tend to stay around trees, don't like areas saturated with water and they're harmless. Carlton added the insects are tasty, but only right when they come out of the ground.

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