What is Brood X and How Will It Affect New Jersey?

Cicada, perched on a stem.

What is Brood X? 

For the last 17 years, trillions of cicadas have been biding their time beneath the soil. In mid-May of 2021, these cicadas will emerge en masse from the soil to mate, lay eggs, and crawl over everything in sight. If you live in parts of New Jersey or another area affected by Brood X, you may see as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre. You’ll recognize them by their black, orange, and red exoskeletons and the loud, buzzing or clicking noise they make.  

Brood X isn’t the only type of cyclical cicada. The “X” in the name refers to the roman numeral of 10. There are 12 total cicada broods that come out once every 17 years, and 3 more that come out once every 13 years. Brood X, however, is the largest and most widespread emergence. For 4 to 6 weeks from mid-May to late June or early July of 2021, there will be trillions of cicadas spread out across 15 states. 

Though these cicadas represent a fascinating natural event, the fascination may wear off quickly for those living in the affected areas. Cicadas can be loud, annoying, and may even damage or kill young trees. If you find your property infested with Brood X cicadas, you’ll likely want to call in an exterminator to clear your property of these pests. Consider hiring Termiguard Services’ extermination experts to quickly take care of the problem.

What Areas in New Jersey Will Be Affected by Brood X?

Brood X will emerge in 15 states and districts, mainly in Eastern and Midwestern states. These states and territories are New Jersey, Maryland, Washington D.C., Delaware, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. In New Jersey, the cicadas are most likely to appear in Burlington, Hunterdon, and Mercer counties. 

In Mercer, cicadas from Brood X are likely to appear in large numbers in Princeton, Lawrence, Mt. Rose, Pennington, and West Windsor. If you live in Hunterdon County, watch out for cicadas in Holland, Kingwood, and Milford townships. In Burlington County, look for cicadas in Mt. Laurel, Marlton, and Moorestown, though much of the rest of the county may also be affected. 

Outside of these 3 counties, you may also find cicadas in Monmouth Junction, Morristown, Browns Mills, Harmony, Hillsborough, as well as in the Merrill Creek Reservoir. However, cicadas may appear in other parts of New Jersey as well. If you want to be sure, ask someone in your New Jersey community who has lived in your area for at least 17 years. That person may remember whether a lot of cicadas appeared there the last time Brood X came to the surface in 2004. 

Brood X’s 17-year Life Cycle

You may be wondering why Brood X has waited underground since 2004. Experts believe the answer lies in the way the species has evolved to resist its predators. Cicadas make easy prey for many predators, including wasps, rats, fish, reptiles, other insects, and even your dog. To ensure the species’ survival, cyclical cicadas learned to stay underground most of the time. When they do emerge, they emerge in huge numbers, ensuring that predators could not possibly eat all the cicadas. 

Why the cicadas only emerge once every 17 years is more of a mystery, but it is still likely a way to avoid predators. Some experts believe the 17-year cycle makes it less likely that a predator will adapt to match the brood’s cycle. Scientists have also theorized that the 17-year cycle makes it less likely that the brood will emerge during an extremely cold summer. If the temperature falls much below 68 for too long, the brood may not be able to reproduce or survive. 

Whatever the reason, Brood X appears with clocklike regularity every 17 years. They usually appear when the soil 8 inches beneath the surface reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. That usually occurs in mid-May, often after the first warm rain. Four to six weeks later, after mating and laying eggs in trees, the cicadas will die. The eggs they left behind will hatch 6 to 10 weeks later, and the new generation will head underground until 2038. 

Should I Worry about Damages? 

Cicadas are unlikely to cause any damage to your home or other manmade structures. They can, however, damage your trees. When cicadas lay their eggs in trees, some of the trees’ branches will wither and die. You may notice some of the leaves in your trees turning brown. Healthy and large trees will not die; in fact, the damage could make strong trees healthier by killing off their weakest branches. 

Smaller and younger trees, however, could be killed by the cicadas’ egg-laying. Young fruit trees are especially vulnerable. Wait to plant or transplant any new trees until after all of the cicadas finish laying eggs and dying off, sometime in late June or early July. If your yard already has young trees, cover them with 1 cm mesh nets. This will prevent the cicadas from getting to the trees’ stems. 

Other plants in your yard are unlikely to be damaged. Cicadas usually avoid flowers and shrubs because their branches are too thin to support their eggs. They also pose little threat to pets. The only hazard your pets may face is if they eat too many cicadas. Their exoskeletons are not easily digestible and could pose a choking hazard if a pet tries to eat too many at once. 

Protecting Your New Jersey Property from Brood X

Whether or not you have trees in your yard that are susceptible to Brood X, you may want to keep Brood X cicadas from your home. Like most pests, cicadas could make their way into your home, causing discomfort and unpleasantness. Even if they stay outside the confines of your house, you may not want to have massive numbers of cicadas swarming your porch, lawn, or flower garden and laying eggs in your trees for 4 to 6 weeks. 

Plus, cicadas are noisy. They can emit sounds between 80 and 100 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound of a lawnmower or even a motorcycle. These loud noises will make it difficult to stay productive or relax in your own home. They may even keep you and your family up at night. Imagine trying to sleep with a lawnmower outside your bedroom window, and you’ll know what it can be like to have your yard infested with cicadas. 

If you live in an affected area, be sure to keep your windows and doors closed when Brood X emerges. Cover your young trees with mesh, and keep an eye on your pets to prevent them from eating too many cicadas. The best way to protect your home from cicadas, however, is to hire a professional exterminating company such as Termiguard Services. Our experts have years of experience dealing with cicadas and know how to keep your yard free of the annoying creatures. Call to learn more about our services.