The cicadas are coming...
Sometime this month or maybe next, a biological clock felt only by cicadas will go "ding!" and a swarm of the fat, buzzy bugs will emerge from the ground, blanketing the eastern U.S. coast.
Magicicadas, or periodical cicadas, live on 13 or 17 year cycles, as juveniles who burrowed into the ground years ago dig out and emerge as nymphs, then shed their exoskeletons and buzz off as full-grown cicacadas, swarming the same region on consistent, multi-year cycle. The cicadas belonging to each llife-cycle are named with Roman numerals, the one in question being Brood II.
Brood II is coming to a seaboard near you.
The cicadas won't come as far north as Toronto -- Brood II's grounds stretch, approximately, from Virginia to Connecticut, and they are concentrated along the coast (we know this based on maps of previous swarms). Toronto will surely see cicadas this summer, just just the kind that come out annually, not Brood II magicicadas.
Websites like Cicadamania.com and Magicicada.org contain helpful tips and Q&A's regarding the upcoming entomological event. For example: when are they coming? Sometime this spring, says Cicadamania.com, usually when the ground temperature at 20 centimeters below the surface reaches 17.8 degrees Celsius.
Or this, also from Cicadamania.com, which is not really a question, but has a great answer:
They're coming, and they scare me!
Get a grip! They're only bugs.
(Those in affected states and planning spring nuptials would also do well to check out their cicada wedding planner page.)
Radiolab has also set up a neat interactive map helpfully titled "Mapping Swarmageddon" which shows ground temperature readings, including ones input by listeners, and should help predict when the cicadas will arise as each temperature-reading site approaches 17.8 degrees.
2014 will also see a periodical cicada emergence -- Brood III -- but that one will be centered in the American Mid-west, according to Magicicada.org's helpful maps. 2015's Brood IV emergence stretches a bit further south.
As for Brood II, for now, all we can do is wait and try not to let the buzz build too much.
Kate Allen is the Star's science and technology reporter. Find her on Twitter at @katecallen