LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - About two-thirds of Kentucky is about to get bugged in a big way.
A brood of cicadas is making its first appearance in the area since going underground in 1991. The bugs started showing up on May 11, said Gene Kritsky, a cicada expert who teaches at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati.
The cicadas making the latest appearance are Brood XIV. Brood XIV is centered on the eastern two-thirds of Kentucky, although they are also in 11 other states.
Their appearance will be spotty, Kritsky said. That could be caused by a number of factors, including development that has dramatically changed landscapes since the early 1990s.
John MacGregor, a herpetologist who works for the state and spends time in the woods turning over logs and rocks, said he has noticed a lot of them just below the surface, getting ready for their brief time in the sun.
The long-range trend has been toward earlier emergence. Kritsky said that's "another example where wildlife is telling us things are a little warmer than they were."
Cicadas don't bite, sting or even eat during their aboveground life stage. But, they raise quite a racket.
Cicadas emerge from the ground as moist white nymphs, aerating the soils as they make their way to the surface. Then they crawl up a wall, tree or some other vertical surface and begin a two-hour transformation into adults with wings. The dried nymphal skin is left behind.
A couple of days later, males begin to sing to attract females, creating a noise that drowns out the sounds of everything from cars to conversation.
After mating, females cut slits in twigs and lay about 400 eggs. The eggs hatch six to eight weeks later, and the next generation of nymphs falls to the ground and begin burrowing toward a 17-year sleep.
The latest brood is one of at least 30 that appear at various times and sometimes in overlapping places.
There also are three species within each brood, each with a different song. And there are annual cicadas that appear every year.
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,
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