The very horny and very loud insects haven't arrived in full force for the Mid-Atlantic cicada sex invasion quite yet, but when they do, they will come with a huge body-count advantage over people, outnumbering us 600-to-1, or possibly even more, according to the Associated Press. The exact number of noisy bugs that will emerge from beneath the soil for the sole purpose of making more cicada babies remains unknown. Several experts estimate that 30 billion of the brood will make the four- to six-week migration above ground and across much of the East Coast. Researcher Gary Hevel at the Smithsonian Institute pegs that number of the 2013 swarm at closer to 1 trillion. The states prime for the cicada mating brigade — North Carolina up through Connecticut — have an estimated total of 50.6 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The lower bug estimate is where the AP got its 600-to-1 figure, but if the cicadas come out in the trillions, the pesky (but ultimately harmless) noise-makers will outnumber people 20,000-to-1.
The pests won't populate the entire coast, however, so not all 50 million of us have to panic. The map below, from the experts at Cicada Mania, shows the most likely areas of infestation, with the dots referencing previous sightings:
A closer look at the Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, and Virginia areas, for example, only shows this year's brood — known as Brood II — in certain parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania:
But those areas that do house this year's brood, well, they're going to see as many as 1 billion of the bugs per square mile; another estimate puts the number at 1.5 million per acre, or 960 million per square mile. Since these bug masses will use so much of the Eastern seaboard as their sex dens, we can expect many, many billions of them in concentrated areas, making for one very loud cicada love song. It's going to be noisy.
So far, though, Cicada spotting has been limited. A few East Coasters have reported spotting the sex bugs in their backyards, or at least the holes in the ground via Instagram. They're just not in buzzsaw-decibel droves yet. But they will be. Oh, they will be. And soon those holes will be talking, and their creators will be having sex, and leaving their crunchy cicada shells all over your yard. You will be outnumbered. Just know that.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.