Nightly News   |  April 10, 2013

Billions of cicadas to emerge after 17-year absence

When the ground warms to 64 degrees, a group of cicadas known as Brood II will infect the East Coast from North Carolina to New York’s Hudson Valley. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> dark days of the aftermath of this past storm season you could hear people asking, what's next? locusts? well, close, how about cicadas. they hibernate underground and they only come out every 17 years, and that would be right now. just when we thought nature had nothing left to throw at us. our report tonight from our chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson .

>> reporter: the signs of spring are popping up everywhere. but this season's real blockbuster is a sequel. cicadas, the return of brewed 2. after a 17-year absence this noisy group is coming back in force, says university of connecticut researcher dr. john cooley .

>> 7 million per acre.

>> reporter: we're talking billions and billions.

>> it's a lot of cicadas.

>> reporter: these 17-year cicadas will infest the east coast from north carolina to new york's hudson valley and connecticut, emerging from underground hiding places near the bases of trees, through holes the size of a pinky finger .

>> they're going to look like swiss cheese and there will be hundreds of them if you really have a lot of cicadas in your yard.

>> reporter: what moves nature's chattering class its warmth. the cicadas won't come out of their burrows until the ground temperature is 64 degrees. they emerge as nymphs, shed their shells revealing the adult cicada inside. the noise is the mating call of the male. how loud do these get?

>> these cicadas a chorus might get to 90 or 100 decibels, comparable to a rock concert or something of that nature.

>> reporter: the females respond with a more demure wing flick that sounds like this. they mate, the females lay eggs and both genders die, all in about four weeks, if they can avoid predators.

>> right now everything on the planet wants to eat a cicada.

>> reporter: even some people.

>> eat it, eat it!

>> reporter: while they annoy humans, cicadas don't bite or sting and help move nutrients around, part of the cycle of life that may soon be clamoring in a backyard near you. anne thompson , nbc news, mer den meriden, connecticut.