They’re here! The ‘Brood V’ cicadas, which have spent the last 17 years hanging out underground, are popping out by the billions across Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia right now. Special thanks to Dan Keck, who’s been documenting what the mass emergence looks like, up close and personal.

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Periodical cicada nymphs spend 17 years underground before tunneling up out of the soil. Billions of cicadas will emerge more or less at the same time, and scientists are still trying to figure out how they coordinate this mass coming out party.

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The cicada nymphs are wingless and have to crawl along the ground while they find a good place to molt.cicada3-2

Once they’re ready, they do a back flip out of their old, brown exoskeleton.cicada4-2

Almost there…

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Photo: Sarah Hina via Flickr

 

When they first emerge, their bodies are a stunning white. Within an hour or so, they’ll turn a darker color, but they’ll keep those bright red eyes. cicada6-2

Though the full lifespan of a periodical cicada stretches 17 years, the adults  only live about four weeks. They pretty much just eat, mate and die—starting the whole cycle over again.cicada7-2

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Photos above by Dan Keck of Logan, Ohio, unless otherwise noted. For more cool facts about this year’s mass cicada emergence in Pennsylvania, go here.