Get ready to be bugged by cicadas

The cicada occupation is just getting started.

Some of the red-eyed flying insects, which come out once every 17 years, have begun to emerge. But bug experts say you ain’t seen nothing yet. 

The wings of an adult cicada are silhouetted by a distant street light in Chevy Chase, Md., Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The wings of an adult cicada are silhouetted by a distant street light in Chevy Chase, Md., Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

This is Brood X (as in the Roman numeral 10), one of the largest groups of periodic cicadas. Some places already are overloaded, with singing bugs covering walls and trees. Elsewhere, the ground hasn’t warmed enough for the cicadas to come out en masse.

But come out they will — by the billions, if not trillions, in 15 states in the East and Midwest. When they emerge from the soil, they shed their exoskeletons on trees and walls, leaving husks in their wake. And they can go everywhere: trees, doorsteps, sidewalks, cars and even on people who don’t shoo them away.

A cicada nymph molts into adulthood in this time lapse video in Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Trillions of Brood X cicadas are beginning to emerge after living underground on tree root sap for 17 years. (AP Video/Carolyn Kaster)

And then there are the eerie songs. The noise can sound like the soundtrack to a bad science fiction movie, but it’s actually the males’ mating call. The creatures are like hormone-hopped teenagers, said University of Maryland bug expert Mike Raupp, whose own neighborhood is already in full cicada explosion.

But other places are still waiting for the chorus and the onslaught, especially if they are farther away from warmer cities, says University of Connecticut bug scientist John Cooley.

Some people are spooked by them. Other people, like Raupp, eat them. Chefs have recipes. The University of Maryland has a cookbook if you are so inclined.

Dr. Zoe Getman-Pickering, a postdoctoral scientist at George Washington University, walks through Woodend Sanctuary and Mansion with cicada shells in her hair, Monday, May 17, 2021, in Chevy Chase, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Dr. Zoe Getman-Pickering, a postdoctoral scientist at George Washington University, walks through Woodend Sanctuary and Mansion with cicada shells in her hair, Monday, May 17, 2021, in Chevy Chase, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A red-shouldered hawk drops a squirming cicada nymph as it feeds in a lawn, Monday, May 17, 2021, in Columbia, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A red-shouldered hawk drops a squirming cicada nymph as it feeds in a lawn, Monday, May 17, 2021, in Columbia, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A red-shouldered hawk holds a cicada nymph in its beak as it feeds in a lawn, Monday, May 17, 2021, in Columbia, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A red-shouldered hawk holds a cicada nymph in its beak as it feeds in a lawn, Monday, May 17, 2021, in Columbia, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
An adult cicada flies from a clover flower in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Cicadas, adults and nymphs shedding their shells cling to a flowering plant in a Columbia, Md., garden, Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Most of these bugs will get eaten, but not by people. Birds, snakes, dogs, cats and even ants can feast on them. 

Cooley says the spectacle is a sign that our ecosystem is still healthy despite climate change and biodiversity loss. These bugs have been coming out like this for millions of years. And the United States — with two small exceptions — is the only place that gets cicadas that come out every 17 or 13 years. Other places get them every year.

A cicada hangs just after shedding its nymph shell as a street light shines behind in the distance in Chevy Chase, Md., Monday, May 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A cicada hangs just after shedding its nymph shell as a street light shines behind in the distance in Chevy Chase, Md., Monday, May 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Enjoy or fear them while you can.

The bugs will be gone by around July 4, after the female lay eggs in tree branches. The eggs will hatch in July and August, the baby bugs will tumble to ground, burrow below the soil, feed off tree roots and stay hidden until 2038.

An adult cicada moves along in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
An adult cicada moves along in Washington, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A black carpenter ant pulls on the wing of a cicada just after it shed its nymph shell in Chevy Chase, Md, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A black carpenter ant pulls on the wing of a cicada just after it shed its nymph shell in Chevy Chase, Md, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Black carpenter ants devour a cicada as it tries to shed its nymph shell in Chevy Chase, Md., Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Black carpenter ants devour a cicada as it tries to shed its nymph shell in Chevy Chase, Md., Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Adult cicadas cover a plant, Monday, May 17, 2021, at Woodend Sanctuary and Mansion, in Chevy Chase, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Adult cicadas cover a plant, Monday, May 17, 2021, at Woodend Sanctuary and Mansion, in Chevy Chase, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A cicada that failed to completely shed its nymph shell spreads its wings on a the base of a tree in Chevy Chase, Md., Monday, May 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A cicada that failed to completely shed its nymph shell spreads its wings on a the base of a tree in Chevy Chase, Md., Monday, May 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A red-eyed adult cicada hangs on a tree next to a molting nymph, Monday, May 17, 2021, at Woodend Sanctuary and Mansion, Chevy Case, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A red-eyed adult cicada hangs on a tree next to a molting nymph, Monday, May 17, 2021, at Woodend Sanctuary and Mansion, Chevy Case, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
An adult cicada's wings are seen just after it shed its nymph shell, early Wednesday, May 5, 2021, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
An adult cicada’s wings are seen just after it shed its nymph shell, early Wednesday, May 5, 2021, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Cicadas, adults and nymphs shedding their shells cling to a flowering plant in a Columbia, Md., garden, Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Cicadas, adults and nymphs shedding their shells cling to a flowering plant in a Columbia, Md., garden, Monday, May 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

AP Photos

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