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Swarm of Cicadas Taking Aim at U.S.



By DAN LEWERENZ, Associated Press Writer

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - After 17 years of relative quiet, Mother Nature is bringing the noise. Periodical cicadas, a species of the grasshopper-like insects best known for the scratching, screeching "singing" of the males, will emerge this May, filling forests in more than a dozen states. Almost as abruptly as they arrive, they'll disappear underground for another 17 years.

"Why do certain insects take only one year to develop, and others take two or three? It's just part of their genetic programming," said Greg Hoover, senior extension entomologist for Penn State University.

There are at least 13 broods of 17-year cicadas, plus another five broods that emerge every 13 years. The last to emerge, Brood IX, was seen last spring in parts of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.


This year, it's time for Brood X, the so-called "Big Brood," to surface. Its range stretches from Georgia, west through Tennessee and to isolated pockets of Missouri, north along the Ohio Valley and into Michigan, and east into New Jersey and New York.


"This is one of those years we kind of dread," said Paris Lambdin, professor of entomology and plant pathology at the University of Tennessee. "We had an emergence a couple years ago around Nashville, but nothing like what we expect this one will be."


No other periodical cicada covers so much ground. And with hundreds of them per acre in infested areas, the noise will be hard to miss.


"In 1987, coming back from the University of Maryland on Interstate 95, when you drove through a wooded area you could hear the insects," Hoover said. "This would have been mid to late June, with the windows down, and then it would shut down when you got to a field or a non-wooded area."


In rare years, a 13-year brood can emerge to add its collective voice to that of a 17-year brood.


"Out in the Midwest is where things get really hairy," Hoover said. "Missouri, Illinois, Indiana have combinations of 17-year-brooded individuals and 13-year-brooded individuals, and they can have overlap."


There's no question that the class of 2004 will be a nuisance. The cicadas will make plenty of noise, and adults are poor fliers that tend to bump into things.


But as swarms go, these cicadas aren't that bad. Adults don't feed on leaves, so they won't strip the trees, but they do lay their eggs in twigs.


"The females, once mated, will lay pockets of eggs along twigs that will cause structural weakening of those twigs," Hoover said. "Eventually they may drop off and fall to the ground, the nymphs will drop off and fall to the soil, and that's where this species is for the next 17 years."
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OK...I'm green. What is the difference in locus (which we had about 2 or 3 years ago......still here that "sound" in my ears sometimes...ha!) and Cicadas?
 

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cicadas are sometimes called locusts

there are 3 species of 13 year and 3 species of 17 year cicadas in the US

their broods are unsychronized

some years seem completely void of any while other years they are everywhere

they do no harm and only last a month or less beginning usually in May
 

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Well around here they must have staggered their breeding seasons to emerge about every year! Seems like I hear them/see them every summer. Or maybe my ears are more damaged than I thought!

mc
 
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I read an article in my local paper about this some time back...made mention that all the animlas will eat them, and be nice and fat this winter b/c of it?
 

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I'm not kidding on this, if you can catch them when their body is white and soft. You can fry them in grease until brown and eat them. They taste alot like pork "cracklins". Not chicken.
Shadowwalker
 
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I think you mean that the cicadas cause no harm if you don't mind losing the outer two to three feet of your ornamentals. They decimated my dogwood in the summer we had an overlap year here in Maryland and ruined the shape.
On the other hand, the kids can learn to catch the little buggers and collect the little exoskeletons they leave all over the trees and adjust to being dive bombed every so often and enjoy it.
You do get quite a bit of "precipitation" from the glutted birds, however...
 

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What's really hard to handle is the Circada Killers that come after them. The 4 inch long yellow and black wasp/hornet thing. I've seen them dragging Circadas across the yard lots of times. Don't like the big Killers at all! They are huge and intimidating. They make holes in the ground to live in. One year they picked a row in my garden.
 

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I live in Detroit, MI. We get Cicadas every summer. They must have staggered their broods. Some years are worse than others but they are here every summer. In my mind it wouldn't be summer without that noise!
 

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They make good chicken food,,nothing funnier than watching a chicken go after those things. :haha:
 
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We get 'em every year.

Trivia: Count 14 days after the first cicada you hear in the deserts of AZ and that will be the date of the first rain in that area. Not necessarily ON that spot, but within the general area. The bugs are ALWAYS right, I've been keeping unofficial track since someone taught me this when I was a little kid. I suspect they're reacting to a very slight rise in humidity that heralds the monsoons.

More trivia: there's cicadas in the low deserts south of phoenix, but they don't screech, they just make quiet clicking noises. Suspect this is an adaptation to very little cover and very hungry predators.

Leva
 
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