WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, May 3, 2021 — American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, is encouraging families across the eastern United States to educate themselves on the mysterious and fascinating cicada ahead of Brood X’s emergence in the coming days and weeks.
In just a few days, billions of cicadas will burst forth from the soil, rising from underground lairs to molt, mate and begin the life cycle anew. For the better part of the last two decades, these red-eyed insects have lain in wait, sucking the roots of plants and trees for sustenance as they tunnel and prepare for their brief adult life.
“Cicadas have long fascinated humans – for their jaw-dropping numbers and large size. Despite their frightening appearance, cicadas are a wonderful, natural part of life, and a reminder that humans are just one of millions of species who call Earth home,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president & CEO of American Humane.
Like every animal on Earth, cicadas are essential members of their native habitats and ecosystems. Among their many contributions, parents can educate kids about their roles:
- Aerating the soil. When cicadas burrow and tunnel, they naturally aerate the soil, which helps air, water and nutrients enrich the roots of plant life.
- Fertilizing the soil. When cicadas die, their bodies provide an incredible nutrient boost to the soil, stimulating vegetation, which in turn feeds herbivores.
- Pruning mature trees. Female cicadas lay their eggs at the end of branches, from which the newly-born nymphs will drop to the ground before burrowing down and beginning their 17-year underground life. Many species of trees benefit from this process, and produce more flowers and fruit in the following year.
In addition to their ecological role, cicadas are genuinely fascinating creatures, despite their alien-like appearance. This spring, young learners will have a firsthand educational experience to observe one of nature’s most bizarre animals. Parents can help children learn how cicadas:
- Generate 100 decibels of noise. When male cicadas emerge, they vibrate a part of their exoskeleton called the tymbals. The noise can reach 100 decibels as hordes of males search for a mate, which interests scientists because of how little energy they expend.
- Naturally repel water. Microstructures that cover the wings of a cicada help keep the insects dry by repelling water. Scientists are attempting to replicate these marvels of nature to use in human technology.
- Avoid predators by living underground. The unique lifespan of the cicada helps the species avoid predators through their irregular emergency. While they provide food for creatures big and small, they also emerge in such numbers that they protect themselves from extinction.
Families across 14 states can expect to see cicadas when the soil, about eight inches below the surface, warms to 64 degrees. This year, expect to see cicadas during American Humane’s Be Kind to Animals Week®, the longest-running commemorative week in U.S. History. Parents and educators are encouraged to use this unique opportunity as a jumping-off point to learn more about the animal kingdom. Learn more at www.AmericanHumane.org/BeKind.
About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization. Founded in 1877, American Humane is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare and well-being of animals, and our leadership programs are first to serve in promoting and nurturing the bonds between animals and people. For more information or to support our work, please visit www.americanhumane.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.