Cicadas: A Deafening Love Story

A cicada pokes its head out of a shrub in this June 9, 2004 file photo, in Newport, Pennsylvania.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Cicadas are back — by the billions — for the first time since 1990. But Laura Peters, who lives at the epicenter of the invasion, says bring 'em on. "They don't do any damage," she says. "They don't eat your children. They just come and make a lot of noise."

Four-time cicada invasion veteran Ed Ewald, 72, compares the unique sound to "an alien invasion," reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

They've clearly already captured the Windy City. From field trips at nature centers to creepy-crawly street fairs, cicada-mania is playing at full volume in Chicago.

The volume is the drone of male cicadas attempting to lure their mates. The sound can get up near 100 decibels — as loud as a bus.

The sounds of the cicadas are the unwelcome competition that forced the area's biggest outdoor music hall to reschedule an entire month of concerts.

"Once they start with that mating call, which is almost as loud as the top volume we use for a rock concert," says Welz Kaufmann, president of Chicago's Ravinia Festival, "there's not much we can do."

Mike Raupp, a University of Maryland Entomology professor, is an expert on all things cicada. To him, it's a love story, 17 years in the making. He describes the bugs' single mission in life: to dig themselves out of a hole, shed their skin, climb a tree and let nature take its course.

"They're singing their little hearts out," says Raupp. "They've only got a couple of weeks to hook this thing up."

It isn't easy being a cicada. After waiting all those years, only a handful live long enough to mate. The challenge: not getting eaten along the way. It seems that anything bigger than a cicada wants to make a meal of one.

Even one of the bugs' biggest fans can't resist.

"They're delicious," says Raupp.

Cicadas' time on Earth is short: A few weeks of heaven, and they're history — bound to a cycle that will bury them again until 2024.