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Editorial: They’re on the way

We know there are more than a few Americans, no doubt even some living in Franklin County, that think these times we live in are, well, apocalyptic.

Famines, earthquakes, plagues — we’re writing about the Seven Signs here — and then there were those insect invasions.

If you’ve been paying attention to the natural world, you know that a particular phenomena is arising from the earth ready to make its move. The cicadas from Brood II are beginning their emergence along the East Coast — from North Carolina to Connecticut, parts of seven states in all.

Cicadas offer up a fascinating back story. As part of their unique life cycle, they burrow underground and stay there for 17 years, feeding on plant roots. Then, when the soil temperatures reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit, usually between April and June, they emerge from the ground as nymphs, shed their impressive outer skin as juveniles, find higher perches such as trees or buildings and then fly around to find mates. The females lay their eggs and in a short time, the nymphs hatch and bury themselves in the ground, starting the cycle all over again. As for the parents, they quickly die.

But don’t feel too sad for the adults. They have a way of making their mark in this short period of time. Cicadas from Brood II, one of groupings of these bugs that are attached to specific geographic locations as well as either a 13- or 17-year cycle, are going to number in the billions.

They will swarm, filling the air.

And they’re noisy.

A male’s song can reach roughly 100 decibels. Imagine, then, the racket caused by a swarm of these bugs.

All in the name of love.

Other than being noisy and the fact that there are a lot of them, there’s not much to fear. As ugly or as scary as they may look to some people, they don’t bite or sting.

When you really think about it, it’s an impressive show that the cicadas put on. Sadly — or fortunately, depending on your point of view — it’s one that Franklin County residents aren’t going to see firsthand. As for another brood, it seems we and much of the rest of New England are out of luck. Brood XI was last seen in Massachusetts in 1954. That’s not to say Massachusetts is completely out of the running. Brood XIV is expected to crop up in parts of eastern Mass. — in 2025.

Might be worth the wait.

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