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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cicadas are on their way

Thursday, April 29, 2004

They're big. They're clumsy. They have an ominous name. They're coming to Brazil.

Welcome Brood X, the 17-year periodical family of cicadas (locusts) that many people remember with a certain disdain.

"They were thick when I was working in the Brookeville Reservoir area," Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator Mark Evans said of his last experience with the insects. "I'd literally have to sweep them off the sidewalk. They could get slimy, especially when it got rainy."

Despite his less-than-fond memories of the bugs, Evans said the upcoming swarm, which should be in full force by the end of May, is really not that big of a deal.

"I'm not going to say that they're not a pest," he said. "But this is a short-term thing. People need to know to take it in stride and watch out for people who are out to make a buck."

Contrary to popular belief, the insects themselves do not bite or attack humans. According to an article from Indiana University's web site, the bugs fly into people because they are clumsy and not well-adapted to flying.

The brood is the largest of all 17-year varieties. The exact number of cicadas in the brood is not known, though they can reach a density of 1.5 million an acre.

There could be 38 trillion in the Hoosier state alone.

Cicadas only take residence in wooded areas, however. The IU article said that isolated shrubs, broad-leafed trees, and trees with soft, woody branches are vulnerable. They do not harm evergreens or leafy, non-wooded plants.

The bugs reproduce by emerging from the ground periodically, in this brood's case, 17, and laying eggs in branches and twigs. Soon after, they die, and the cycle begins anew. Brood X is expected to be heaviest in south-central Indiana.

The bugs quiet down at night, though their daytime activity can be exceedingly loud. In previous incarnations, the insects have driven outdoor events like graduations and weddings indoors, as they have been known to get tangled in hair and fly under shirts.

The bugs will die off about three weeks after they arrive, leaving only husks and bad memories.

Evans said claims that Bloomington, Ind., was the "epicenter" of the swarm were a bit out of proportion. Any wooded areas is prone to a visit from the big bugs, including Clay County. He advised that people with small fruit trees or decorative trees on their property should put a net around them for the three-week "visit", just to be safe.

"They didn't wipe us out last time, and they won't this time," he said.

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