When the soil is warm enough, trillions of cicadas will emerge from the ground this year. Slowly at first, but then they will be inescapable, flying around and producing their signature buzzing noise.

But not in Maryland — or at least not for the most part.

The two broods of periodic cicadas emerging this year, are Brood XIII, known as the Northern Illinois Brood, and Brood XIX, known as The Great Southern Brood. The Northern Illinois Brood emerges on a 17-year cycle; the Great Southern Brood emerges on a 13-year cycle.

The last time the two emerged at the same time, Thomas Jefferson was president. The cycles are not set to align for another 221 years. The Great Southern Brood curves from Iowa and Oklahoma over to the East Coast, where it runs from Georgia to Maryland.

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So, yes, according to previous emergence records of Brood XIX, portions of St. Mary’s County are likely to see some of the insects emerge this year. If you are in the zone where the cicadas will dig up through the soil this summer, take heart: They’re totally harmless.

“I know it can be too much sometimes to have this swarm of big insects, so it’s understandable that not everybody is a fan,” said Rafael B. de Andrade, an assistant professor of environmental studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “But they are harmless, they are harmless to plants, to trees, and they provide a lot of food for birds and reptiles.”

Marylanders likely remember the last emergence of Brood X, the 17-year cycle cicadas that were last seen in 2021. Countless bugs came above ground and buzzed around for a couple of weeks before vanishing, their babies not to be seen until the 2030s. Bugs could be seen almost everywhere, resting on trees, flying in the air and squished on the ground.

This summer, at least in Maryland, will not be like that. John LaPolla, a professor of biology at Towson University, said he does not remember the Great Southern Brood making much of an impact in Maryland.

“My guess is that it will be very sporadic,” LaPolla said.

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Maryland is on the northern edge of the brood’s range, LaPolla said, and the emergence will likely be much more “patchy” compared to 2021.

Other places in the country will see swarms like Maryland did then, LaPoll said, but if you’re hoping for that in Maryland, you’ll be disappointed.

While it is rare that these two broods emerge at the same time, and it is true they will cover a large geographic swath of the U.S., there is very little overlap, if any, between the two. Nobody is really in for a double swarm of cicadas, according to the University of Connecticut.

If you see any cicadas, you can report the sighting to Cicada Safari to help researchers understand them better.

Cody Boteler is a reporter on The Banner’s Express Desk, reporting on breaking news, trending stories and interesting things in and around Baltimore. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, USA TODAY, Baltimore magazine and others.

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