FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — In just a few weeks, 17-year-old cicadas will hatch and cause quite a ruckus for four to six weeks in the DMV. The insects are harmless and serve as a protein-filled meal option, but for some species that aren’t as innocent, including copperhead snakes.
“With spring here and with a pulse of food like the emergence of the cicada eruption, snakes are going to be active and they’re going to be feeding on this food opportunistically,” said herpetologist John Kleopfer from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Services.
Wildlife experts say residents should be cognizant of the venomous reptiles, not scared.
“It’s nothing to change your lifestyle to or anything like that or be scared of. Just be cognizant of when you’re out working in your garden to use a rake to spread things out and just be conscientious of where you’re walking,” explained Kleopfer.
Snakes aren’t the only creatures that will be snacking on cicadas.
“These large, clumsy, insects are basically a great source of protein, very nutritious and it’s basically going to be an all-you-can-eat buffet for anything with a mouth. So that includes fish, birds, snakes, mammals, anything, even your pets,” said Rachel Griesmer, urban forester from the Urban Forest Management Division.
Griesmer said dogs enjoy eating cicadas and that’s perfectly okay in small quantities.
So, when will Brood X arrive?
“They will typically start hatching in about early May, possibly late April. Whenever the soil reaches about 65 degrees,” stated Griesmer.
Once hatched, the cicadas will find a mate, lay their eggs and hatch the next brood which we won’t see until 2038.
Fairfax County released a guide with more information about cicadas; click here to read more.