In the United States, these insects have been growing underground for 17 years. They’re annoying, creepy, and above all, noisy.
These are cicadas. And soon, millions of them will erupt from underground, causing chaos to everything around them.
Now, what if you suddenly got surrounded by them? What would a plague of cicadas do to your body? Are they lethal to humans? And how could they affect your hearing?
These insects that spend 17 years underground are known as periodical cicadas, and they almost never come in small doses. When they’re finally born, there’s 1.5 million of them per acre of land.
And in a single forest, there can be hundreds of millions of them. So what would happen if you were caught in the middle of all these cicadas?
The first thing you’d notice, with millions of cicadas around you, would be their incredibly loud mating call. A single cicada can be as loud as a lawnmower. Now, imagine how loud millions of them would be.
It’s common for people who live in areas with lots of cicadas to wear some sort of hearing protection. Even if you’re far away from them, you would still notice their noise.
So if millions of them suddenly bombarded you, it would be like being in the middle of a rock concert. If you’re in this cloud of insects for long enough, they’d likely damage your hearing. Not to mention that you’d be incredibly annoyed. Ugh. Worst concert ever.
And speaking of which, a cicada’s body is very similar to a guitar. Since their abdomens are hollow, like a guitar, the sound gets amplified, and can spread further, and be even louder.
Now that your hearing is damaged, you’d likely be suffering from the pain, unable to move. As you’re lying there, the cicadas would continue to fly around you. Some of them may pierce into your skin and suck on your blood. But this isn’t intentional. The cicadas are just mistaking you for a tree since their primary food source comes from them. Drinking your blood would kill the cicadas, so you shouldn’t expect too many bites from them.
See the thing is, cicadas are really, really dumb. I mean, can you blame them? They’ve been growing for 17 years underground. And when they emerge, they have virtually no brain power and very few motor skills.
This would cause millions of them to stumble and bump into you. You’d probably squish thousands of them by accident just by walking.
And because these insects are so clumsy, it makes them easy pickings for lots of different animals. So not only would you be swarmed by cicadas, but you can also expect critters like raccoons, squirrels, and birds to be near you as well.
They’d all be feasting off the cicadas for weeks, until there were practically none left. And as that’s happening, you should be able to make your escape.
Granted, you’d have some injuries, but this is a scenario where it’s possible you’d make it out alive. After all, the cicadas aren’t trying to hurt you. They’re just dumb and really annoying. They’re mainly a food source for other
animals, and every summer, those creatures can feast in the forest.
So although they might not be our favorite insect, we should probably keep periodical cicadas alive. But what else could safely make extinct? Maybe mosquitoes?
- “Periodical Cicadas”. 2020. Missouri Department Of Conservation.
- “Facts About Cicadas”. Contributor, Alina. 2017. livescience.com.
- “What Do Cicadas Eat? Cicada Diet Facts & Information”. orkin.com.