One cicada, two cicada, three cicada and a whole lot more


Nick Thomas, Columnist
Printed 5:38 a.m. ET Might 25, 2020


They’re again! Or at the very least, they quickly might be.

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 A attainable million-strong military of cicadas will shortly emerge from their 17-year subterranean nap and descend later in spring on some mid-Atlantic states comparable to Virginia and West Virginia, in addition to North Carolina. Their Ohio return is anticipated within the spring of 2021.

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Simply how most of the noisy bugs the typical home-owner can anticipate to see (or hear) stays to be seen (or heard).

This outstanding pure occasion has occurred many occasions earlier than. The final huge cicada invasion of the area occurred again in 2004 when George W. Bush was president, the Mars Rover had simply landed on our neighboring planet, and a postage stamp price 37 cents. Now, larvae from the category of ‘04 are tunneling their means again to the floor.

After climbing bushes to shed their skins, the rising bugs will sprout wonderful, clear wings and fly off looking for a companion. These females that handle to dodge hungry predators comparable to birds, bats, squirrels, or wasps, will ultimately lay eggs, then die.

After the eggs hatch, the larvae will burrow again some eight inches underground the place they may feed on tree roots and received’t be heard from once more for one more 17 years.

Cicadas are best-known for making an ear-piercing noise, a courtship music of the male.  The eerie sound is produced from a quickly vibrating drum-like membrane on the insect’s stomach. The frequency and tone of their calls fluctuate with temperature and time of day, and every of the tons of of various cicada species has a singular name.

Extra annoying than harmful or harmful, cicadas will not be hazardous to people. They don’t sting or chew, however small spikes on their ft can scratch if dealt with. And since their aerobatic abilities are considerably erratic, the massive awkward bugs can seem from nowhere, maybe flying clumsily into one’s hair which might startle kids and possibly a couple of macho adults, too.

However the best hazard could also be to pets. Some canine and cats received’t have the opportunity to withstand a crunchy cicada snack, however the arduous exoskeleton can turn into lodged of their throats. And even when Rover does handle to swallow the tough-skinned critters, they’re troublesome to digest. So preserve these kitties and pups nicely fed!

Happily, cicadas don’t have the urge for food of their extra ravenous airborne cousins — locusts — which have plagued humanity since historical occasions by consuming all flora of their path. Cicadas merely suck the sap from maple, oak, fruit, and different deciduous bushes, maybe killing a couple of branches within the course of. Clearly, massive numbers may be extra harmful, significantly to citrus orchards.

Most specialists advocate doing nothing if just a few cicadas take up residence in your yard. Frantically emptying cans of Raid on the invaders will possible do extra environmental injury than a number of cicadas ever may.

In fact, in the event you’re not choosing up good vibrations out of your noisy yard company, you may think about following the instance of the Bloomington, Ind., man who devised his personal resolution to the 2004 invasion by consuming some 30 cicadas. However don’t. He quickly developed an allergic response and required transient hospitalization, so this isn’t a beneficial methodology for cicada removing.

With an grownup lifespan of a few month, nonetheless, the cicadas will quickly disappear — their offspring having returned to their underground seclusion till round 2037. Simply who might be president then, whether or not we might be residing on Mars, or if we are going to even nonetheless be mailing letters, additionally stays to be seen.

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn College at Montgomery and has written options, columns, and interviews for over 800 newspapers and magazines. See

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