Scientists say millions of cicadas are poised to invade the East Coast. WBAL's Kate Amara reports.
After hanging around underground for 17 years, billions of flying bugs known as cicadas are due to sweep over the East Coast starting sometime in the next month. And although it's too early to predict exactly where or when the brood will appear, this spring's emergence should rate as the most closely watched bug-out in history.
"For entomophobes, this is the season of despair. For the entomophiles, this is the season of joy," said University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp, using highfalutin terms for bug-haters and bug-lovers.
The outbreak is expected to start in the Carolinas in April or early May, and work its way up northward to Washington, Philadelphia and New York by early June. Some observers have already reported the first signs of the emergence. The timing depends on the weather: Cicadas dig "escape chimneys" up from the ground where they've been maturing for the past 17 years — and when the temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), that signals the insects to rise up, wriggle out of their shells, take wing and look for mates.