Periodical cicadas (Magicicada septendecim), the cousins of katydids and crickets, have a unique breeding schedule, and after 17 years of living underground, a large group of them are preparing to fill the skies along the U.S. East Coast, from North Carolina up to Connecticut.
Normally, periodic cicadas spend their lives in complete darkness underground, sucking the fluid out of the roots of trees and shrubs. At the end of their life, they emerge, breed, and almost instantly die, completing a lifecycle that humans have studied for centuries.
In the process, however, they annoy millions of people with their constant chirping and, of course, the piles of dead cicada bodies on the ground. While some areas may see no cicadas at all, others in the past have seen millions of cicadas in a single acre. (Listen to the cicada’s love song.)