Brood X cicada molts its exoskeleton after emerging from the ground after 17 years

A cicada in Washington, D.C. was caught on camera this week slowly molting and shedding its exoskeleton. 

The red-eyed bug was seen perched on a fence coming out of its skin, delighting a child who can be heard exclaiming, "Oh my gosh!" and that "This is the best life ever!" 

Different groups of cicadas come out in different years in different places. This year’s cicadas are part of Brood X, as in the Roman numeral 10. Trillions of them will emerge from the ground for the first time in 17 years.

Brood X is one of the largest broods seen by the most people.

It can be seen in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

RELATED: Cicadas 2021 Map: Brood X starts to emerge in DC, Maryland and Virginia

The bugs only begin to emerge in large numbers when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees.

The cicadas will mostly come out at dusk to try to avoid everything that wants to eat them, squiggling out of holes in the ground. 

They’ll try to climb up trees or anything vertical. Once off the ground, they shed their skins and try to survive that vulnerable stage before they become dinner to a host of critters including ants, birds, dogs and cats.

They come out in large numbers to ensure survival. The survivors make the next brood, said University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp.

The only things cicadas can harm are young trees if they climb up them and try to plant eggs on weak young limbs. Experts say netting young trees protects them. Do not use pesticides.

Though while the cicadas aren't dangerous, their presence can be disruptive. They can seem to ruin weddings and large events just because there's so many of them.

Their noise and smell can also be an inconvenience. 

When cicadas die, they fertilize the trees and may smell a bit. When a lot of them die in the same place, it can "smell like roadkill," entomologist John Cooley said. "Get a shovel or a rake and move them somewhere far away," he suggested.

Though trees do tend to bloom more the year after a cicada emergence, said cicada expert Gene Kritsky.

Cicadas are also known for their noise, which is part of their mating ritual. Males try to attract females by singing to them, and when females are interested they twitch their wings.

Brood X got so loud that in 1902 at Arlington National Cemetery that they almost drowned out President Theodore Roosevelt, who was known for his booming speaking voice, Kritsky said.

And in 1970, Bob Dylan was getting an honorary degree at Princeton during a Brood X emergence. It spurred him to write the song "Day of the Locusts." (Though cicadas are not locusts; they are a different species.)

Once the males mate, they die. And after females lay their eggs, they die.

So except for the eggs, the cicadas from Brood X will be gone by around July 4, entomologist John Cooley said. Annual cicadas can last until October.

Most cicada species come out every year. But in the United States, certain groups of cicadas stay underground for either 13 years or 17 years. These are called periodical broods, such as Brood X that is currently emerging.

Except for one species in India and one in Fiji, only the U.S. gets these periodic cicadas.

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press.