There is something quite interesting coming up soon, while it might sound a bit odd, tons of cicadas are about to start coming out. While we’re used to hearing them from time to time, it seems they may be seemingly everywhere pretty soon.
According to ABC 13, Brood X could be coming out before we know it. This happening in April or May depending on how things play out. For those who do not know Brood X is basically a hoard of Acadia who will be emerging from underground. They do this from time to time and well, it seems the time for them to come out is upon us once again.
ABC 13 wrote as follows on this interesting situation:
For about four weeks, wooded and suburban areas will ring with cicadas’ whistling and buzzing mating calls. After mating, each female will lay hundreds of eggs in pencil-sized tree branches.
Then the adult cicadas will die. Once the eggs hatch, new cicada nymphs fall from the trees and burrow back underground, starting the cycle again.
There are perhaps 3,000 to 4,000 species of cicadas around the world, but the 13- and 17-year periodical cicadas of the eastern U.S. appear to be unique in combining long juvenile development times with synchronized, mass adult emergences.
These events raise many questions for entomologists and the public alike. What do cicadas do underground for 13 or 17 years? What do they eat? Why are their life cycles so long? Why are they synchronized? And is climate change affecting this wonder of the insect world?
We study periodical cicadas to understand questions about biodiversity, biogeography, behavior and ecology – the evolution, natural history and geographic distribution of life. We’ve learned many surprising things about these insects: For example, they can travel through time by changing their life cycles in four-year increments. It’s no accident that the scientific name for periodical 13- and 17-year cicadas is Magicicada, shortened from “magic cicada.”
The Washington Post recently wrote on this topic as well and really highlighted how mysterious these periodical cicadas are. They have been spending about 17 years underground and yet we know very little about how they manage to survive down there or what they do while buried. This periodical swarm will be enormous and well, overwhelming when you think about it and southern states will likely be heavily affected. Though, this is very interesting and will be mind-blowing for those researching the swarm.
The Washington Post wrote as follows on the topic:
Cicadas are a Thanksgiving-like feast for wildlife. As they emerge, birds, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, ants, raccoons, snakes, frogs and possums will gorge themselves for about a week until they collapse into food comas.
“What people will actually see is animals eating bugs,” said Gaye Williams, an entomologist for the Maryland Department of Agriculture and an avid cicada watcher.
Yes, she said, your dog will eat cicadas if given the chance.
“It’s very much like when you go to an all-you-can-eat crab feast,” Williams said. “The very first bunch that you throw down on your table, everybody grabs crabs and you start cracking them, and you take every last molecule of crab meat. About the fourth tray … people only take the claws. As this orgy of eating goes on, there are animals that actually won’t touch them anymore. They’re full.”
The sacrifice of a few thousand lives won’t faze Brood X. It will carry on with its single-minded purpose: courtship, sex and hatching the next generation of cicadas.
After tunneling their way out of the ground near tree trunks, they’ll crawl up trees, or things they mistake for trees, and shed a thin shell from which they emerge as Technicolor animals with big orange eyes and wings.
The males will start mating songs that reach up to 100 decibels. “That’s the sound of a chain-saw, a lawn mower, a jet overhead,” Raupp said.
And then they will get busy. To paraphrase an old hit song, they will do it like they do on the Discovery Channel — in trees, on your patio, your porch, your yard, your roof and your car. It might be a good idea to keep the windows closed.
Humans will see an undifferentiated mass of bugs. But in reality, Brood X is composed of three species — Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini and Magicicada septendecula. They’ll sort into different trees and make three distinctly different male songs.
Adult cicadas die after intercourse. Females stick their eggs into the branches of trees, then keel over. The eggs hang out for a while, then hatch, and the nymphs fall to the ground and dig down to a nice tree root, which they nibble on for 17 years.
The process is somewhat harmful to trees, said Eric Day, an extension entomologist at Virginia Tech. He recommends that farmers and homeowners not plant saplings until July, when all the cicadas in the area have died.