The sheer number of insects to come out at once can be a pain for nearby residents, as the noise they produce can be in excess of 120 decibels at close range.
But despite their disquieting appearance and less-than-stellar reputation, the insects do have some redeeming qualities. They improve soil conditions by aerating the ground as they tunnel their way to the surface and provide a nutrient-rich -- if infrequent -- diet for many species of birds.
They have also been known to make a tasty treat for humans. Stories from the Onondaga Nation near Syracuse, N.Y., tell of being rescued from famine by the timely emergence of periodical cicadas.
Connoisseurs who have sampled the insect describe its flavor as "nutty."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500