ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Snakes. Insects. Urban legends.
There is confusion and misinformation on social media concerning copperheads and the emergence of the Brood X cicadas.
Some social media outlets have claimed that the emergence, which is affecting northern Virgnia will lead to a population explosion of the venomous copperhead species.
However, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR) says that’s wrong. While copperheads eat cicadas, and the emergence provides them with easy meals for a few weeks, it won’t lead to a copperhead baby boom.
The VDWR says there is no evidence that the cicada event will lead to a significant increase in copperhead numbers, though the agency did say that for the next month it would “result in a bunch of fat and happy copperheads.”
Another bit of misinformation associated with Brood X and copperheads is that the only time copperheads will climb plants, trees, and bushes is to go after cicadas.
The VDWR says that is false, as well, that copperheads will often climb into bushes and shrubs, not only to feed, but to sun themselves.
If you hike wooded areas, you should always be aware of copperheads. They will often sun themselves in open areas and in trails. They are generally not aggressive. If you see one, give it a wide berth. Most copperhead bites happen when someone mistakenly steps on one.
While they are venomous, copperheads often feed on nuisance species like rats, so they are considered valuable and vital.
They can be identified, as their name implies, by their reddish copper-tinted heads.