"Hear That Buzzing? 13-Year Cicadas Are Back In U.S. South"

"Traveling through a rural part of the U.S. state of Georgia recently, Charles Seabrook heard a high-pitched whirring so loud he thought the engine of his pickup truck was overheating.

'I was getting ready to raise my hood when I realized that I was hearing the 13-year cicadas,' said Seabrook, a Georgia writer and naturalist.

Throughout the U.S. South and as far north as Illinois and Indiana, a noisy and bizarre insect ritual is playing out for the first time since 1998. After living quietly underground for 13 years, billions of red-eyed cicadas -- dubbed the 'Great Southern Brood' by scientists -- are emerging to mate and quickly die.

'The most common description I've heard is that it's an alien invasion,' said Nancy Hinkle, a University of Georgia professor of entomology. 'It sounds like the mother ship is hovering down in the woods.'"

David Beasley reports for Reuters May 16, 2011.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011