Throughout portions of the South Atlantic region, the periodical cicadas, known as the Magicicada Brood II, have been quietly living underground since roughly 1996 (17 years!).

This upcoming month this quiet existence should break as masses of these unusual insects emerge from their underground lair for a raucous, month-long mating spree. These cicadas emerge only once every 13 or 17 years when soil temperatures at about 8 inches (20 centimeters) in depth warms to about 63 °F (17°C).

After cicada juveniles, or nymphs, emerge, they shed their exoskeletons and molt into fully formed adult cicadas. If you look closely, you may even be able to find their old molted shells still attached to trees or rocks!

While the Cicadas’ mating songs are among the loudest of all sounds made by insects, no need to worry, these insects don’t bite or sting and the emergence of periodical cicadas is a fascinating natural phenomenon.

If you are interested in learning more about these critters or want to help track and report their emergence, check out these nifty sites:  Radiolab or Magicada.org!