That buzzing sound you hear…. is the Brood X periodical cicada, set to descend—or rather emerge—in the eastern United States sometime this spring. These 17-year cicadas, of the genus Magicicada, were last seen in Ann Arbor in 2004.
Tom O’Dell, Matthaei-Nichols natural areas specialist, remembers the day he saw the cicadas in a grove of buckeye trees at the botanical gardens. “There were thousands of individuals on the branches and trunks,” Tom recalls. “They were so loud a co-worker and I could not hold a conversation within five feet of each other at normal volume.”
Reports of possible injury to trees has a lot of people anxious about the 2021 brood. After the 2004 visit, says Tom, there was damage to some small-diameter limbs in which eggs were deposited but it was largely cosmetic, and “that damage is hard to discern” today. Despite multiple media warnings of a wide-ranging, massive cicada event in Michigan, the actual local occurrences and/or sightings of Magicicada this year might turn out to be more sporadic.
Whatever happens, if you catch sight of a cicada event this spring, enjoy—it’s sure to be a wild, one-of-a-kind show. Check out this website from the University of Connecticut. It offers maps, cicada sounds, ways you can help, general info, links to cicada apps, and more.