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The 'Great Southern Brood' of cicadas has emerged

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

They're here. Brood XIX, also called the great southern brood of cicadas - they have re-emerged after 13 years. And Sofi Gratas from Georgia Public Broadcasting spoke with people right in the middle of it in Macon, Ga.

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADAS CALLING)

MAUREEN VANDERVILLE: It starts out in the morning, and you're not sure if you hear it. And then it just gets worse and worse and worse.

SOFI GRATAS, BYLINE: Maureen and Jean Vanderville (ph) in Macon can't escape the Brood XIX cicada emergence.

M VANDERVILLE: It really does sound like an alien mothership.

JEAN VANDERVILLE: But even inside the house, we can hear them.

M VANDERVILLE: With the doors closed.

J VANDERVILLE: Door closed and everything - you hear them.

GRATAS: Brood XIX is the largest reported group of periodical cicadas. Trillions of them have taken over the trees here and in other parts of the southeast.

M VANDERVILLE: I think if it were to last all summer, I'd be annoyed.

J VANDERVILLE: Yeah.

M VANDERVILLE: But since I know this is an event that happens periodically and is going to disappear so I can enjoy most of my summer, I'm OK with it.

J VANDERVILLE: Yeah.

M VANDERVILLE: It's fascinating.

GRATAS: This group emerges every 13 years. Periodical cicadas are different from annual ones. They have red eyes instead of black and smaller, more slender bodies. Plus, they make a far different sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADA SINGING)

GRATAS: Only the male cicadas sing to attract the females for mating, like this one that landed on my microphone during this recording.

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADA SINGING)

GRATAS: When they all sing together, they can be louder than a lawn mower or traffic. Lisa Hargrove from Macon has lived through several cicada seasons.

LISA HARGROVE: When I was a little girl, my father was a paint contractor, but he would collect the exoskeletons of the cicadas off of the trees, line them up, and he would paint them all gold. And on Sunday morning, I would wear them to church like jewelry, and the old women would clutch their pearls when I came in with cicada shells all over me.

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADAS SINGING)

HARGROVE: It just makes me think of him. And especially with this brood that's out now, I wish he were here to hear this. He would love it.

GRATAS: Brood XIX will only be out for a few more weeks, paving the way for the annual summer cicadas to take over soon.

For NPR News, I'm Sofi Gratas in Macon, Ga. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sofi Gratas