Ah, spring. It's that beautiful time of year when the weather gets warmer, the flowers begin to bloom, and billions of buzzing cicadas emerge from the depths of the once frozen ground in swarms to terrify us with incessant humming. When does cicada mating season start? Uh, pretty much any day now — and this year is predicted to be a big one for the noisy insects throughout much of the Northeast. In fact, 2016 might be the perfect time to finally come to terms with your fear of these deafening (though ultimately harmless) creatures. Either that, or consider using this opportunity to go take a vacation to the West Coast. Personally, I am not above taking the escape route.
It's kind of impossible to pinpoint an exact day when the cicadas will make their ascent, but CicadaMania (yes, a real website) predicts we can expect Brood V periodical cicadas (I'll explain what that means in a minute) to arrive in Maryland, Long Island, parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia pretty soon, most likely in May, but perhaps even earlier in April, especially as the weather get ever warmer. Entomologists tell AccuWeather that the insects usually come out when the soil's temperature hits around 64 degrees, and recent rainfall can even speed up that process. Yes, you're enjoying this gorgeous weather, but take note — the cicadas are too.
A few notes about Brood V, before we go on to discuss what cicada mating season even entails. Brood V are periodical cicadas, meaning they emerge altogether at once every few years in different regions (as opposed to annual cicadas, which pop up every year). This Brood in particular is made up of Magicicada cicadas, and have a 17-year life cycle, meaning they make an appearance every 17 years, and were last seen in 1999.
For the last 17 years, these cicadas have been chilling out underground as little baby cicada nymphs, and now, they're ready to make their very noisy debut. Once they emerge from the ground, CicadaMania explains they will climb to the closest tree, and begin the process of shedding their exoskeleton (hence, all those little cicada-shaped husks you see in the spring). Then? They're all set and ready to find a mate. The buzzing you hear is usually the male cicadas (but sometimes female) using their tymbal organs to make a sound that attracts a mate. You might find it annoying to listen to all day long, but it's irresistible to cicadas looking to get it on — which is exactly what they do. The cicadas reproduce, the babies bury back down underground, and the process repeats itself.
All in all, the adult life-span of the cicada only lasts for a month or two, so while they may arrive en masse, they won't stick around for long. You can go back to enjoying those beautiful springtime afternoons in peace after about six weeks or so. Although, by then it will probably be time to worry about another pesky insect — mosquitoes.