Billions of beady-eyed cicadas will swarm the eastern US this summer after spending 17 years underground, but don't fret -- an insect expert at the University of Alabama said they won't emerge in the Yellowhammer State this year.

The 2021 brood, better known as Brood X, is made up of periodical cicadas. Unlike annual cicadas, which reappear every year and are identifiable by their larger size and green coloration, periodical cicadas have a 13- to 17-year life cycle and spend the vast majority of their lives underground until their entire broods emerge at once.

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Brood X was hatched in 2004, and Dr. John Abbott, the Director of Research and Collection for University of Alabama Museums, said they will emerge sometime around late May or early June along the East Coast, with some appearing as close as Georgia, but they are not expected to arrive in Alabama.

Abbott said our neighbors to the east can expect to see billions of the bugs shedding their husks on the trunks of trees this summer, easily recognizable by their red eyes and darker coloration. He said while this brood isn't anything apocalyptic or biblical, the sheer number of them will be something to marvel at.

"I’d encourage people to just enjoy and embrace it. It’s a marvel of nature. If you really want to do more, I’d say collect and eat them. Fry them up or find different ways to cook them," said Abbott. "They’re arthropods and are in the same group as shrimp. Not saying they taste like shrimp, but if you season them, they’ll take on the flavors of what you put on them. They’re like fried pork skins, very high in protein."

Abbott said Brood X will be around for a month or so before they die. During that time, people can expect a lot of loud noise as the males begin their mating calls. Just before this Brood dies off, their eggs will hatch and their larvae will move underground and feed on tree roots for the next 17 years.

Although this round of periodical cicadas is not expected to show up in Alabama, Abbott said our state can expect its own brood to emerge in 2024.

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