Billions of Brood X cicadas, spotted lanternflies set to hit the East coast this year

PHILADELPHIA -- "What would make somebody not want to study bugs?" asked Greg Cowper.

The longtime insect-lover crawled his way through the dark hallways within the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University this morning. Hidden behind the walls of its popular museum lies a library full of preserved insect specimens. Cowper navigated towards the shelf that read, "Brood X."

"The periodical cicada is going to emerge in the spring," said Cowper, who is a curatorial assistant with the Academy's Department of Entomology. "Some groups come out every 17 years."

Locals will recognize cicadas by their high-pitched, ceaseless buzzing song during the spring and summer months. While certain cicadas do appear annually, others emerge synchronously by the billions.

"May and June, we're going to see the adults from the eggs that were laid in 2004," said Cowper. "They emerge, sing, mate, and die, and that lasts maybe two weeks to six weeks."

The offspring of the 2021 brood will dig underground, where they will remain for the next 17 years.

Cowper says the city of Philadelphia will not see as many cicadas as its rural and suburban surrounding areas. Still, many residents of the east coast of the United States can expect noise that may exceed over 100 decibels. However, despite the annoyance, cicadas do not pose much of a threat to humans.

"They don't sting, they don't bite," said Cowper. "I just tell people to grab their lawn chair and enjoy the show."

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