Sunday, April 25, 2021

Cicadas Are Coming!


This is an annual cicada. They are also called dog day cicadas because they appear during the hot humid "dog days" of late summer. We see some of these big green guys every year. Click to enlarge.

This is a periodical cicada. Black body, red eyes, orange trim. This kind is famous for emerging in large groups at intervals of 13 and 17 years. Lucky for us, different groups are on different schedules so we don't have to wait that long to see them. Brood II (two) emerged in 2013: you can read my eyewitness account by clicking here. This spring we're expecting Brood X (ten) -- also called The Great Eastern Brood -- to emerge over an area that spans from Georgia to New York and into the Midwest. Click here to link to a 2021 cicada map published by Newsweek.

The cicadas of Brood X have been underground in wingless nymph form for the past 17 years, feeding on tree root sap. But this year, when the soil temperature is just right, probably in May, they'll begin to burrow upward. They'll dig out of the ground, climb a tree or whatever seems good, attach to it, shed their skins and emerge as winged adults. That's an empty skin pictured above. Then they'll call, fly around, find mates, and lay eggs. They've got just a couple of weeks to make a racket and reproduce after which they die. Another few weeks and their eggs will hatch in the tree branches and this year's tiny nymphs fall to the ground and hunker down to suck sap for the next 17.

We see Brood X again in 2038.

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