The weather is warming up across the eastern U.S., which means the cicadas of Brood X are emerging from the soil for the first time in 17 years. By now, trees, doors, and fence posts in many parts of the country are covered in the hollow exoskeletons the insects shed. To see what it looks like when a cicada molts into its adult form, check out the video below.
This time-lapse footage from the Associated Press shows the first moments of a 17-year cicada’s life above ground since its birth. After scaling the closest vertical surface it can find, the insect bursts from its nymphal skin and leaves it behind. Newly shed cicadas have pale bodies, but they quickly develop the familiar hard, black exoskeletons.
Brood X, the most widespread group of 17-year cicadas, comprises billions of bugs. The exoskeletons they leave behind can become as much of a nuisance as the insects themselves. During past emergences, shells reportedly piled up so high in some areas that people had to clear their driveways with snow shovels. They’re abundant, but at least the cicada remains aren’t noisy. The live versions of the creatures can reach up to 100 decibels when they gather in trees to belt out their mating songs.
Cicadas can be bothersome—and creepy, as this video demonstrates—but you can rest-assured that they’re perfectly harmless. Though you may want to stop your dog from gorging itself on them (one or two are fine).