CINCINNATI -- Some cicadas found recently in southern Ohio are emerging after 13 years underground, according to two cicada researchers.
Gene Kritsky, professor and chairman of biology at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, and fellow researcher Roy Troutman say they found the group of cicadas emerging this past week at the Crooked Run Nature Preserve in Clermont County, east of Cincinnati.
Kritsky said he suspected the presence of a previously unrecognized 13-year cicada brood in 2001, but had to wait for the insects to emerge to confirm it.
"If I was working on fruit flies, I'd have this done in a month," Kritsky said.
Some cicadas emerge annually, but the researchers say periodical cicadas are only found in the eastern half of the United States and emerge typically every 13 to 17 years, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Cicadas spend most of their lives underground, living by sucking fluids from plant roots. They mate and die within weeks of emerging, and the groups that emerge are called broods. Each brood is numbered, and 13-year periodical cicadas are called Brood 22
Kritsky had seen the cicadas before, in 1988, but he and other biologists thought they were a different brood that was a year late.
It is common for broods to stay hidden among the emergence of other broods, said Joshua Benoit, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.
"A lot of times they'll emerge with another brood, so some of these get missed," said Benoit.
Cicadas in large numbers can create a deafening racket and can harm young trees.
Periodical cicadas have evolved to emerge every 13 or 17 years partially to defend themselves from predators, Kritsky said.
"Their survival strategy when they do come out is to come out in such great numbers that their predators get tired of eating them," Kritsky said.
"If people really want to see these things, they should wait about two weeks because the cold weather is slowing them down a little bit," Kritsky said. "In about two weeks they'll be out there singing and screaming."