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Monday, 05 April 2021 23:36

2021: The Year of the 17-Year Cycle of ‘Cicadas’ Featured

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It seems right out of the Bible.......Hordes of fearsome biological monstrosity's Cicada are about to drag their way to the surface of the earth after developing underground for 17 years. It comes only to mate and spawn; however, it imparts terror and disgust in the hearts and minds of every man, woman, child, and beast unfortunate enough to cross its path.

This is no Hollywood fantasy ladies and gentlemen, this creature is real. (a 17 year cycle of cicadas and it is called 'Brood X')

When a particular brood matures and emerges, it is usually in many millions of noisy insects in May and June. The last time this brood emerged was in 2004. The 2021 Cicada emergence is the largest of all broods, affecting portions of DE, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, NC, NJ, NY,OH, PA, TN, VA, WV.

Depending on where you live, these heinous herbivores should be dive-bombing your friends and family any day now, actually, they are more likely to fall out of a tree than fly, but, rest assured, they may be landing somewhere on your body sometime soon. During their brief emergence, they are a major nuisance.

In areas where they emerge all at once by the millions, they can do serious damage to a the trees and shrubs. In addition, their high pitched, shrill noise is very irritating. While Cicadas are fascinating to some, their presence in big numbers, is un-nerving to many people.

Cicadas have the longest adult-to-adult cycle of any animal known, taking the full 17 years to mature from ant-sized nymph to peanut-sized adult. During their years of subterranean seclusion, the juvenile forms suck juices from small roots, shedding their skins four times as they grow. When their time in the sun finally comes, the nymphs tunnel to the surface and wait for the soil to warm to about 64 degrees F. before venturing out. “They’re amazingly synchronized,” with hundreds of thousands to more than many million per acre appearing almost simultaneously at night in some areas.

Within a day or two, the adult males begin their cacophonous chorusing, producing sound by vibrating abdominal drums called timbals. One Circada can emit sounds at 100 decibels or more when up close, the racket is among nature’s loudest sounds, rivaling a jet airplane at takeoff.

The adults will spend about six weeks engaged in raucous reproductive behavior, and then they’ll be gone, leaving millions of tiny offspring behind to burrow into the soil and start the 17-year cycle all over again. Shortly after mating, the male Cicada dies. This dramatic phenomenon occurs only in the eastern United States.

Adults do not eat. Egg laying females cause significant damage to trees, bushes and shrubs, during their brief adult stage. Damage to trees is caused by the adult female, as she cuts slits into twigs and small diameter branches, to lay her eggs. An abundance of eggs can cause the branch tips to break and terminal leaves to die. The eggs hatch, producing tiny nymphs that fall to the ground. The nymphs burrow into the soil and feast on underground tree roots. They remain there for years, slowly growing, until their periodic cycle calls them to emerge again as adults.

Cicada Curiosities

• If the human life cycle followed the same pattern as the 17-year cicadas, we’d have a 102-year childhood followed by a one-year adulthood.

• The first record of 17-year cicadas appeared in a book published in 1669, describing an emergence that probably occurred in 1651. Reminded of Biblical grasshopper plagues, Pilgrims called cicadas “locusts,” a misnomer that persists today.

• During the Civil War, Union soldiers held at the Andersonville, Ga., Confederate military prison relied on cicada choruses to mask the sounds of prison breaks.

• The W-shaped mark near the outer edge of 17-year cicadas’ front wings prompted the superstitious belief that the insects foretell war.

• There are three species of 17-year cicadas. In most places where they occur, all three species are found intermixed.

• Recordings of cicada songs, rather than specimens of the insects themselves, are more useful in telling the species apart.

• For many cicadas, only males sing. This led the Greek poet Xenarchus to write, “Happy are cicadas’ lives, for they have only voiceless wives.”

• Male cicadas have three kinds of songs: calling choruses attract females and other males to the aggregating area; softer, complex courtship songs are produced just before mating, and disturbance squawks are used when cicadas are approached rapidly or grasped.

• Cicada songs may sound strange and grating to our ears because they’re at ranges we’re not accustomed to hearing in music or human voices.

**If you see or hear them report them with the Cicada Safari app. Use the hashtag #BroodX or #BroodXCicadas in social media.

Read 3384 times Last modified on Monday, 05 April 2021 23:58

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