Parks officials hope cicadas won’t keep campers, hikers away

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BROWN COUNTY, Ind – Indiana Parks officials hope Hoosiers won’t avoid visiting parks once millions upon millions of Brood X cicadas emerge from the soil.

The singing cicadas have been under the soil for the last 17 years and are expected to reemerge in the coming days.  Some cicadas are already being found in different parts of Indiana.  Once the soil hits 64 degrees, and following warm rains this week, Central Indiana could be covered with the insects within the next few days.

“Probably by the weekend, they’ll be pretty thick,” said Brown County State Park Property Manager, Doug Baird.

Once the cicadas make their mass-emergence to the surface, they’ll attach themselves to trees, bushes and other objects to being their mating cycle.  

“They will be noisy, that much we know for sure,” Baird said.

The male cicadas are the ones making all the noise, as a way to attract females.  Unlike crickets and some other insects, cicadas make the most noise during the day, and are much quieter at night.

For anyone coming out to the parks, Baird said humans have nothing to worry about from the six-legged creatures.

“They’re not able to bite, they don’t have any biting mouth mechanism or stingers or anything,” Baird said.  “If you pick one up or something like that it’ll flutter or tickle your hand.”

While the cicadas provide a feast for many birds and other wildlife, people who bring dogs to parks should be cautious.  Cicadas exoskeletons can be difficult for dogs to digest.

“They’re not poisonous or anything,” Baird said.  “I don’t think you’d want your dog to eat a bunch of them, it probably would upset their stomach, but squirrels and birds and all kind of animals go after them.”

That’s’ one reason the cicadas wait every 17 years to emerge.  Their massive numbers can overwhelm predators.

“The birds are going after them,” Baird said.  “They’ll eat all they can eat and then after a while there will be so many cicadas, the birds can’t even keep up with them.”

The sheer number of cicadas are likely to be the main deterrent to campers and other park visitors.  In heavily wooded areas, there could be up to 1.5 million cicadas per acre.

“They’ll be coming out and crawling up anything that’s laying on the ground,” Baird said.  “They’ll climb up your camping equipment.”

“There’s no way I would be deterred by insects like that, especially after being cooped up all winter,” said Brown County State Park visitor Kristen Graham.  “I wouldn’t want to have one crawling on me, but if that has to happen then I’ll just brush it off.”

“I wouldn’t want to camp really, if there’s like a million bugs in one acre,” said Brown County State Park visitor Abe Holzworth.

Once the mass-emergence takes place the cicadas are expected to be active for four-to-six weeks.

“It’ll be very interesting for most people, I think,” Baird said.  “They’d be seeing something that happens every 17 years.”

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