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The Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming

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Miscellaneous

127

Magicicada Brood X, East Coast, U.S.

gkat_127.pdf

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2021, 2038, 2055, …

Here’s a sight you’ll have to wait until 2021 to see: the emergence of the Magicicada periodical cicada along the eastern coast of the U.S. And if you miss it in 2021, then your next chance won’t be until 2038. Of course, if you’re squeamish, you might want to avoid the emergence of the entire cicada population altogether—a cicada is a large, flying insect, and even though it doesn’t sting or bite, it has a nasty habit of treating humans as a suitable landing place.

Cicadas are found all over the world, and most come out of hiding each year. But the Magicicada of North America comes out of hiding only once every 13 or 17 years, depending on the specific species.

Since 1907, scientists have been tracking 13 broods of Magicicada, numbered using Roman numerals I through XIII. Brood X (sometimes called the Great Eastern Brood) is the largest of all and last appeared in May 2004, blanketing Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia (see Figure 127-1).

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Figure 127-1. A Magicicada from 2004; courtesy ...

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