Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 7, 2013

Brood cicadas not expected to visit West Virginia, but will see rest of East Coast

PRINCETON — Billions of cicadas, also known as 17-year-locusts, are expected along the East Coast this year, but for West Virginia, it’s not the season for this particular breed of the bug.

“Mercer County is an overlap area,” said Jodi Richmond, an extension agent with the WVU Extension Service. “This year’s Brood II cicadas are not expected to extend into West Virginia, so residents should not expect to experience the cacophony of sound and activity from these insects like our neighbors to the east. However, the next major cicada brood that is expected to emerge in the state is Brood V, which will occur in the year 2016.”

There are two types of cicadas annual (those that you see every year in small quantities) and periodical cicadas. The periodical cicadas are often referred to as the 17-year locusts. There are several different groups, or broods, of these cicadas, Richmond said.

Two of these broods cover Mercer County, which is why there seem to have large swarms of cicadas more often than every 17 years, she said.  The brood II ready to swarm this year does not occur in West Virginia, although Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia can expect to be visited.

“Our next swarm is expected in 2016,” Richmond said. “However, smaller numbers of annual cicadas do appear every year.”

These insects won’t hurt people or other animals. At worst, they might damage a few saplings or young shrubs, according to the Associated Press. Mostly they will blanket certain pockets of the region, though lots of people won’t ever see them.

“It’s not like these hordes of cicadas suck blood or zombify people,” May Berenbaum, a University of Illinois entomologist told the AP.

West Virginia is not expected to see periodic cicadas emerge this year, but annual (or dog-day) cicadas are expected, said Daniel Frank, WVU extension pest management specialist. Annual cicadas are found throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the world. In West Virginia, annual cicadas typically have 2- to 5-year life cycles and emerge in the late summer.

 The life cycles of annual cicadas are often staggered, producing individuals that emerge every year. Annual cicadas have green to brown patterned bodies, greenish wing veins, and dark eyes. Periodic cicadas have black bodies, orange wing veins, and red eyes, Frank said in an article on the WVU Extension Service website.

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