- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - The incessant sound of hundreds of millions of cicadas has invaded central Louisiana.

The whirring drone of 13-year periodical cicadas can be heard throughout parts of Rapides, Grant, LaSalle and other central Louisiana parishes, according to the Daily Town Talk (https://townta.lk/1FqgyZm ).

Chris Carlton, the director of the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum and an expert on periodical cicadas, says there are three species of magicicada swarming in central Louisiana.

The entomologist says the cicadas long-term broods are a natural phenomenon unique to the eastern United States.

Some parts of the country have 17-year broods of periodical cicadas, but Louisiana does not.

Carlton said it’s common in the South for people to mistakenly refer to cicadas as locusts. Some people in the area refer to the periodical cicadas as “red-eye locusts.”

“There are no other insects in the world that go through this combination of long-term broods, highly synchronized, periodical emergences, and this very weird thing of having three very similar species in one place,” Carlton said.

The brooding by the cicadas is expected to last for a few more weeks and then won’t return for another 13 years.

Central Louisiana is at the southern end of the current brood’s area, which extends northward through Arkansas, southern Missouri and into Illinois, Carlton said.

“It freaks me out,” Arianna Brazzell said of the shrill sounds, which are mating calls by male cicadas. Arianna, an 11-year-old student at Georgetown High School, won’t touch the bugs, which are swarming outside her home.

Jennifer Brazzell, her mother, was much more accommodating to the creatures and let them crawl on her, although she said the drone of the cicadas does get irritating.

She said the sound does die down in the evenings.

“It’s almost like they go to bed like the chickens,” she said. “At a certain time in the evening, they’ll just stop (making noise).”

The 13-year periodical cicadas are certainly thriving - and swarming - in Pollock, according to Mayor Jerome Scott.

“I believe we have more than our fair share. They’ve been getting in ladies’ hairdos, down people’s backs. The kids are loving them, though,” Scott said.

When the cicadas first emerged about a week or so ago, Pollock Town Hall got a lot of calls asking where the “loud hum” was coming from.

“We’re in a rural area, so you can really hear them. We’re right in the middle of the Kisatchie National Forest, so we have quite a loud hum,” Scott said.

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com


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