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Cicada cam offers inside look at invading insects

For weeks entomologists have been heralding the arrival of Brood II cicadas, expected to descend on the East Coast en masse and overwhelm citizens with their noisy mating. This breed of cicada emerges from the ground every 17 years to mate, reproduce and die. When the eggs hatch  the baby cicadas burrow underground to wait the required 17 years before beginning the cycle again.

With all the talk, some on the East Coast are wondering where the cicadas are and why they have not seen them in their area yet, TIME explains. However, there is another option, for those who have not yet or will not have  the opportunity to see the cicadas emerge. The Science Channel has set up a live cicada cam to help build awareness about the insect and increase interest in the cicada, Web Pro News explains. A live camera in a terrarium filled with cicadas allows people to see firsthand how cicadas breed, eat and live before they die. Located in Washington, D.C., the terrarium is already seeing action, and even includes a small model of the US capitol building.

For those on the East Coast waiting for the swarm to descend, the unusually cold weather may be part of the reason that the cicadas have been delayed in some areas, The Atlantic Cities explains. Cicadas typically emerge when the ground temperature reaches a certain marker; cicadas like heat. A cooler spring has not been the cicada’s friend. Gary Hevel, a research collaborator with the Smithsonian Institution’s entomology department, predicts that as the weather continues to warm cicadas will begin to emerge in larger numbers.

A series of maps released on Friday show current reports of cicada locations, but the live cicada cam offers a glimpse of the cicada life cycle for those desiring an intimate look at the life of one of the most curious insect species. The insects can currently be seen moving about the terrarium, rustling in the green vegetation, similar to how they would move about in the trees in the wild. As their life cycle continues observers will be able to see them mate, lay eggs, and die, and a few weeks later see the beginnings of a new life cycle, as baby cicadas emerge and burrow down to begin again.

The terrarium is also strong buildup for the Science Channel’s Memorial Day weekend cicada related programming, including “Cicadas and Invaders 2013,” airing tonight at 8 p.m. EST.