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'Cicada-geddon': 17 States to Be Overrun with Trillions of Bugs

05-16-2024
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A cicada is seen after molting Monday, May 6, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
A cicada is seen after molting Monday, May 6, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

You may not always see them, but you can certainly hear them.

"We are about to see billions of cicadas, commonly referred to as periodical cicadas because they only come out periodically, every 13 or 17 years depending on what broods you're talking about," said Austin Jones, a University of Arkansas entomologist.

Seventeen states from northwest Louisiana up through Illinois and portions of the Southeast will experience what some are calling "Cicada-geddon."

Entomologists expect the harmless – but noisy – insects to emerge from the ground to feed and mate during May and June.

"When soil temperatures hit about 64 degrees six inches down on the year of an emergence, that's when they all know that is their cue to start coming out of the ground," added Jones.

2024 will welcome two broods of cicadas, classified as XIX and XIII. Certain northern states will see both, pushing the total cicada population into the trillions – something that hasn't happened since 1803.

"There are a few overlapping counties in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana where you may see both of those emergences coming out at once and you may have twice as many periodic cicadas," said Jones.

Cicadas can be up to ten decibels louder than a police siren. In one South Carolina county, officials have already asked residents to stop calling 911 saying that alarms are going off.

"Males are the only ones that make the noise, and they move into calling areas. They want to be as loud as possible to draw in those ladies from as far out as they can," said Jones.

For more insight into this rare occurrence, we turned to the author of God and the World of Insects.

"The perceived conflict between science and the Bible was something I wanted to help bridge a gap, particularly in my field of entomology," said Josh Shoemaker.

Shoemaker is an entomologist and biblical scholar. He enjoys where the two fields intersect.

"If you look at the covenant God made with Noah, in that covenant, He said He is making it with Noah but it says He is also making it with all the creatures of the earth. So to me, when I look at that passage, it shows me the insects are also something that's important to God," said Shoemaker.

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While cicadas are often referred to as locusts, they are actually two different species. Some in the Jewish community liken the noise cicadas make to a song of liberation, much like the sound from Miriam's tambourine as she led the Hebrew women in worship after crossing the Red Sea.

"Here we have the cicadas, they really have been trapped for 17 years," said Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, founder of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati. "They were in their own Egypt, they were in their own exile under the ground. They were held hostage in the ground. And when they come out, don't look at it like they are making your life miserable, look at it like they are singing to you. There is a message; there is a liberation."

Rabbi Avtzon also writes for the "American Israelite," a Jewish newspaper in Cincinnati. His monthly column is titled "Lessons for Life from Life." He believes everything we see and hear is ordained from God for a purpose, even the noise from a cicada.

"And that is really how we have to live our life. We have to be singing God's praises," said Rabbi Avtzon. slider img 2

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