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2024 will see mass insect emergence in the US

2024 will see mass insect emergence in the US

Image source: © canva
Oliwia Ruta,
05.02.2024 16:30

This year, billions of cicadas infected with a hallucinogenic fungus will emerge from the ground in the United States. But are these insects dangerous?

Cicadas are a group of insects from the Hemiptera order found in the United States. There are various species of cicadas in the USA, but the most popular ones are the 17-year and 13-year cicadas. These names refer to the time the larvae spend underground before reaching the surface. One unique feature of these insects is their synchronous emergence every few years. Large numbers of adult cicadas come out of the ground to mate and reproduce.

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The year 2024 will be extraordinary for cicadas. Two species, one that emerges every 17 years and another that appears every 13 years, will synchronise and emerge together. This rare phenomenon last occurred in 1803 and will not happen again for another 221 years. By May, billions of these insects will emerge from the ground.

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It may seem like the article's headline is sensationalised, but surprisingly it's not. This year, the cicadas emerging in the US are expected to be mostly infected with the Massospora fungus. This fungus is part of an entomopathogenic species that attacks insects and infects the cicadas while they are still in their larval form underground. The fungus causes various changes in the insects, including complete disintegration of their bodies and behavioural manipulations, forcing the insects to spread the fungus's spores. The catalysts for that are hallucinogenic substances such as psilocybin (also found in hallucinogenic mushrooms) and amphetamine derivatives.

Thankfully, large groups of cicadas pose no threat to humans or animals. These insects neither bite nor damage crops. However, large swarms of insects can sometimes interfere with aeroplane flights since they are big enough to be detected on radars.

Source: TikTok: Doktor z TikToka

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