Big Bug Bonanza!

cmannphoto/Getty Images (Cicada Shell); iStockPhoto/Getty Images (Adult Cicada)

A cicada sheds its outer shell after emerging from the ground. It takes a few days for it to mature into an adult.

This past spring, a special show took place in the Eastern U.S. In late April, billions of large insects called cicadas (sih-KAY-duhs) began crawling out of the soil. They belonged to a group known as Brood X (pronounced Brood Ten). It was the first time they had been aboveground since 2004!

Cicadas spend most of their lives underground feeding and tunneling. When it’s time to reproduce, they emerge and molt to become adults. They shed exoskeletons (hard outer shells), sprout wings, and fly around. To attract females, male cicadas make a buzzing noise that can be as loud as a lawn mower.

Most cicadas spend just two years underground. But Brood X needs 17 years to mature. The swarm of bugs lived for only a few weeks after emerging. The next generation won’t become adults until 2038!

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