After a 17-year hiatus, billions of cicadas are expected to crawl out of the ground this spring and swarm the U.S. East Coast.
According to the New York Daily News, teeming hordes of Brood II cicadas will likely emerge sometime between mid-April and late May. The insects are expected to fill the skies from North Carolina through New England with a noisy chorus that has been compared to the rumble of a New York City subway train.
"Brood II is a periodic cicada that hatches out every 17 years," Craig Gibbs, an entomologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Queens Zoo, told CBS News.
"It'll be noisy. There's no getting around the noise," he said, adding that the insects will be identifiable by their dark-colored bodies and the bright red of their eyes and wing veins.
The cacophonous group expected this spring is the offspring of cicadas last seen in 1996. "If they follow the same tracks as their parents, they'll emerge in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C," wrote National Geographic.
Experts say that the cicadas will pop out of the earth once ground temperatures reach about 64 degrees. At that point, the insects will come to the surface for about four to six weeks to look for mates.
“In places where they’re going to be present, it’s going to be spectacular. There could be as many as one billion cicadas emerging per square mile,” Michael Raupp, a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, told CBS Radio's 1010 WINS.
Periodical cicadas spend most of their lives under the surface of the earth. Near the end of their lifespans, the insects emerge from the ground to breed, dying very soon afterwards. Years later (13 or 17 years depending on the brood), the next generation emerges to repeat the cycle.
Though cicadas will generally not cause harm to humans, experts warn that the insects may be an annoyance.
"It can be like raking leaves in the fall, except instead of leaves, it’s dead cicada bodies," Dan Mozgai, a cicada researcher who runs CicadaMania.com, a website with cicada information and breeding schedules, told National Geographic.
If you're located in an area where cicadas are expected, entomologists suggest trimming tree branches closest to your house to keep the insects outdoors.
Horrified or excited about the cicada onslaught? Tell us below.