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What's the buzz on cicadas?

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Cicadas not likely to swarm Twin Counties when they emerge from 17 years underground.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

BLACKSBURG — While certain areas of Virginia are abuzz with the sound of cicadas, the Twin Counties will stay relatively quiet on that front.
The arrival of the 17-year wave of the noisy and colorful cicadas — different than the annual summer brood of insects — has been much dreaded, but Virginia Tech Entomologist Eric Day says that Twin County residents shouldn’t have to stuff too much cotton in their ears to block the buzzing.
State forestry officials said that, after spending most of their 17 years underground developing in their nymph stage and feeding on sap from tree roots, cicadas are emerging for a few months.

“Periodical cicadas are divided into two ‘races,’ based on their life cycle: a 17-year northern race and a 13-year southern race,” Chris Asaro, forest health specialist for the Virginia Department of Forestry, said in a news release.
“Adults live only for a few weeks,” he explained. “When the adults emerge, the males will ‘sing out’ to attract females.” That’s reason for all the buzzing.
The insect courtship period lasts from four to six weeks. Trees used by the females to deposit eggs experience damage, because the insects will make punctures at the ends of twigs.
“The sudden appearance of many dead twigs, called ‘flagging,’ may cause some concern,” the news release said. “Most trees recover from this damage.”
Cicadas like a variety of ornamental and fruit trees such as apple, dogwood, peach, cherry, pear and oaks.
However, residents of the Twin Counties will have less to fear from the bugs with the red eyes, black bodies and golden wings, according to Day.
“I would not expect them in the Galax area. They will be [in] the central piedmont area of Virginia,” Day said in an e-mail to The Gazette. “At the very most, there might be a few isolated pockets west of the Blue Ridge, but I would not expect damage in your area.
“The next big emergence in your area will be in 2020,” he said.