Billions of cicadas are returning to central Ohio this week.
Naturalists say the cicadas are ending their 17-year hibernation and coming out of the ground to mate and lay eggs. Jim Letizia has more.
A subset of the underground insect's population, known as Brood V, will be particularly heavy around Athens and Nelsonville. Gene Kritsky, a biologist and cicada expert at Cincinnati's Mount St. Joseph University, says Brood V last appeared in 1999. Brood X surfaced in 2004 before the Memorial Tournament in Dublin. The Ohio Division of Wildlife says cicadas benefit trees, plants and birds. Wild turkeys flourished during Brood V's last appearance. It generally takes 17 years of subterranean development for cicadas to transition from nymph to adult. Once they emerge, they live six weeks as they shed their exoskeletons, mate and lay eggs. Kritsky says the holes they leave behind will aerate the soil and more quickly funnel rainwater to plant and tree roots.