These Cicadas Have Waited 17 Years For Their Close-Up

These Cicadas Have Waited 17 Years For Their Close-Up

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A Brood X cicada hangs upside down after shedding its nymph shell.

The Brood X cicadas are here — and many more are on the way.

The insects have spent the last 17 years underground, and they’re now starting to emerge across parts of the eastern United States.

For many people, just the thought of these bugs grosses them out and fills them with dread.

Carolyn Kaster is not one of those people. The Associated Press photographer, based in Washington, DC, has been getting as close as she can to these cicadas as they start to come out in her area.

This time-lapse video shows a cicada shedding its nymph shell and growing into its adult body.

For weeks, Kaster has been photographing these periodical cicadas, which come out every 17 years — and only in this part of the world.

“They’re just so beautifully weird and really fun to photograph,” she said.

Kaster spent many of her nights crawling around on the ground, trying to get the best shots.

“Every time I went out, I found something really special,” she said. “I was surprised every time.”

The nymphs will crawl up just about any vertical surface to shed their shells, photographer Carolyn Kaster said.

An adult cicada crawls up Kaster’s leg.

A cicada that hasn’t completely shed its shell spreads its wings on a the base of a tree.

Billions of these bugs will be emerging over the coming weeks. They start as nymphs, crawling up from the ground and shedding their exoskeletons on plants, trees and other vertical surfaces.

“They will crawl up anything, including photographers,” Kaster said. “So I literally had them in my hair, in my ears, up my sleeves, in my shoes. Every once in a while, I reached my limit and had to stand up and shake them off.”

After the nymphs shed their exoskeletons and their adult bodies form, they will fly away and spend their brief lifespans — about four to six weeks — looking for a mate. The loud buzzing of the male’s mating song will be annoyingly loud to some, but awe-inspiring for others.

“It’s really cool. You just don’t see this very often in your life,” Kaster said. “What a crazy life cycle these bugs have.”

A cicada nymph is covered in dirt. They emerge from under the ground every 17 years. An adult cicada flies near a clover flower. Kaster remembers being fascinated by the cicadas in 2004, the last time they emerged, and she’s been looking forward to 2021 because of it.

“I’ve been thinking

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