HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - This story started with some emails from viewers-- as they asked what in the world was going on in the woods of Hanover County. One note said a locust infestation was wiping out crops while another said it sounded like someone running a gas-powered weed wacker. The real reason for the noise? Cicadas-- a bug variety that's back after 13 years underground.
"It bothered me the first day I heard it. But knowing now what it is, it's just beautiful music of the woods," said Sherry McCarthy of Hanover.
Sherry McCarthy has gotten over the scare. Now she's willing to hunt through the woods to try to find them for our cameras. The cicadas that you hear now are harmless. The red eyed bugs look weird, and they have a rare life cycle, spending 13 years underground.
That noise is the male cicada trying to get the attention of the female to mate.
"When the eggs hatch, the nymphs come out of the egg and go...or come out of the tree and fall to the ground, burrow back down, eat tree roots and in 13 years....viola. They have a whole new crop," McCarthy said.
But before they go underground, they leave behind their leftover skins-- about the only sign that they've been above ground.
The cicadas in Virginia aren't all on the same schedule. That means only some areas get the bugs this year--others will get them next year.
And bug experts tell me aside from the noise, and the carcasses they leave behind, the cicadas don't cause harm to crops or trees.
As long as you can handle the noise, they are just another part of nature, doing their best to enjoying the summer heat.