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What the Midwest cold snap means for the cicadas

Will the cold kill any pesky bugs?
Billions Of Cicadas Will Emerge This Year In Several States
Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 18:00:08-04

People in the Midwest woke up to a blanket of snow and freezing temperatures on Wednesday morning, and temperatures will dip below freezing again for Thursday morning.

This led to a lot of people asking what this means for the Brood X cicada emergence in the coming weeks. Will the cold kill the cicadas? Will it slow them down?

We turned to Dr. Gene Kritsky with Mount St. Joseph University for those burning questions.

"I'm not expecting the next nights to kill any of them because of the cicada's tunnel that it’s going down, at least in some cases six to eight inches. They can actually drop down far enough to be lower than the freeze point would be," Kritsky said.

"As far as impacting the cicadas, the most likely thing (that) is going to happen is it may push them back one or two days in their emergence. But that can be quickly taken care of if we get in the 80s early."

So this cold won't kill them, but it might slow them down a day or two.

This year's April cold snap is unusual, but this isn't the first time cicada broods have been impacted by the weather.

"In 2008, we had a cold snap for Brood 14. And in that case, what happened was toward the end of May, we dropped into the upper 30s and highs in the 50s," Kritsky said. "And that actually delayed the mass emergence by about five days."

This story originally reported by Jennifer Ketchmark on WCPO.com.