WEST MICHIGAN — A type of cicada, known as the 17-year Cicada, will emerge from the ground this spring in parts of Michigan after being absent since 2004.
While there are types of cicadas seen in Michigan every year, these particular periodical cicadas only show up every 17 years.
There are several groups of cicadas, known as broods, that emerge in different locations throughout the United States, on different schedules.
The brood that emerges in Michigan every 17 years are referred to as Brood X.
“It's boggled the human mind really for as long as we've known about these things," said Certified Board Entomologist Mark VanderWerp, who works with Rose Pest Solutions.
"It took years and years and years for people to unravel, like, what are these things? How come they only show up every so often?”
These periodical cicadas live for about 4 to 5 weeks and usually show up in late May to early June. Brood X was last in Michigan in 2004.
Before the 2004 brood died, they laid a whole lot of eggs in the ground. Those eggs have been underground feeding on tree roots and growing.
The cicadas we'll see in 2021 are those eggs all grown up.
“I was actually in college in 2004, studying entomology. And so a number of us went out to see the Brood X emergence in the Lansing area,” VanderWerp said.
“It's just amazing to think that the eggs that were laid that day when I was out there in 2004 are finally now coming to fruition, and these things are going to emerge as adults.”
And while the noises these cicadas make can easily be described as overtly obnoxious, the bugs themselves aren't that destructive.
VanderWerp says their call has been described as sounding like someone saying the word "pharaoh." You can hear what they sound like for yourself HERE at a cicada page the University of Connecticut maintains.
“The good news about the periodical cicadas is they do very little harm," VanderWerp said.
"You might get some emergence holes in your yard, if you've got them living there. If you have young trees that were just planted, they can do significant damage to young new trees.”