Periodical Cicadas Are Here Again!

Brood II is coming; in fact it’s already here in some parts of the country. This group of periodical cicadas has not seen the light of day for 17 years and most K-12 students weren’t even alive the last time they came around.

There are three distinct species of periodical cicadas, all part of the genus Magicicada. Though most have 17-year cycles, some have a shorter life cycle of 13 years. All periodical cicadas of the same life cycle type that emerge in a given year are known collectively as a brood, which is designated by a roman numeral. There are 12 broods of 17 year cicadas and three broods of 13 year cicadas.

These harmless bugs have an unusual life cycle that is fascinating to both children and adults. When they emerge from the ground they are impossible to ignore because they do so in large numbers and their time above ground is not spent quietly. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area in which the will emerge, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to experience and explore one of nature’s quirkiest happenings.

When Brood X emerged in 2004, Science NetLinks created a set of resources to help educators take advantage of the marvelous learning opportunities provided by this natural phenomenon. Brood X, as you may recall, is the largest of the 17-year-cicada broods. We have updated this collection with some of the latest information about periodical cicadas.

We also added a video that we produced featuring an interview with University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp. With an enthusiasm that is highly contagious, Dr. Raupp and Science Update host Bob Hirshon reveal some of the amazing science behind these fabulous bugs. We hope that it encourages youngsters to get out there and investigate cicada science firsthand. After all, we won’t be seeing this brood again until 2030!


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