FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- The relatively quiet days of spring will soon be interrupted by the ear-piercing sound of cicadas.
This year is special though, Brood X cicadas only come around once every 17 years.
James Wolff with the Allen County Purdue Extension Office says while he can't give an exact number, there will be a lot of them.
"There’s just going to be a large number of cicadas, Wolff said. "With the 17-year brood that comes out you’re going to notice them mostly around wooded areas and trees."
The reason there will be so many is a survival tactic to outnumber prey, and cicadas also rely on trees to survive.
Cicadas pierce the bark of tree and shrub branches and lay their eggs inside, potentially causing damage, especially to smaller trees and shrubs.
Wolff explained, "Either it kills that area or if other disease or infection gets into it, it can make it even worse."
To protect a small tree or shrub, you can keep it wrapped in fine mesh, smaller than bird mesh, for the next month to limit cicada damage.
Once the cicadas are dead, though, they become a natural fertilizer and can help you with composting and growing beautiful plants.
Brett Bloom, the owner of Dirt Wain a Fort Wayne composting company, explained "They’ve been sucking sap and eating twigs for seventeen years, just building that mass on their bodies. They come out, they die, they fall to the ground. They’re going to compost naturally."
Bloom explained dead cicadas are good for your compost heap and your garden, and your plants will reap the benefits of the large number of dead cicadas.
"If you are an avid composter and you’ve got a tumbler or you’ve got a pile that you turn with a shovel. Throw them in there, turn them a lot, it’ll just put those nutrients right back into your composts. Tons of nitrogen," Bloom said.
The decomposing cicadas will add nitrogen to the ground, helping plants grow and completing the circle of life.
So while they may be annoying to listen to, Bloom says "I think we should think of it as a gift and really just kind of enjoy it."
If composting or gardening isn't your style, both Wolff and Bloom says you can eat the cicadas.
However, Wolff warns that you should cook them first.