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  • The 17-year cicadas are coming out again.

    Home Forums Outside the box Fun Stuff The 17-year cicadas are coming out again.

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      • #2362224
        AskWoody Plus

        Here, in my part of Maryland, one of the wonders of the natural world is about to start: the 17-year cicadas are coming out, as they have for more than a million years, and that means an amazing large number of them, like no other in 17 years, will be singing in the trees this summer of all summers.


        Technically known as “Brood X”, they are about to erupt into the open air, there to moult, for the last time, from nymphs into full adults that shall sing, mate, lay their eggs in tree twigs, and die in a matter of weeks.

        To me cicadas in full stridor, calling urgently for mates before their short time to live in the open air runs out, has always made the background sound of the late springs and summers of my life; and, at least to me, those of the species coming out also look like flying jewels, the attached photo shows why.
        The only drawback of having so many of them at once that I can think of, is this: as the females, heavy with the fertile eggs of the next generation, climb up the trees to leave the eggs inside their tender twigs before they themselves die, they cut into these to do it and the result is: more cicadas in 17 more years, and dead twigs with dead leaves, spotting trees all over with brown at what would otherwise be the height of the year’s verdor. But I have not in the past, and shall not again, mind that so much, because, as I have been then, soon I shall be better occupied pondering this one of Nature’s great mysterious gifts that all that spotty brown, as in the past, will again signify.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2362271
        AskWoody Plus

        I remember the cicadas when I lived in DC/Virginia circa 1980ish. Beautiful bug and noisy yet didn’t mind their orchestra ensemble. As you said it’s a sign of a new season. Nice to know some things never change. Refreshing. We have them here in the Wild West but they’re more colorful on the east side where you’re located.

        Win7 Home x64 MacOS Chromebook

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2362590
        AskWoody Plus

        And, if you want to be truly into cicadas, better have a look at this:

        From a bit of cicada natural history, fetching pictures of our beloved magicicada septdendecim (the kind in Brood X) to cicada T-shirts, cicada crosswords and much more cicada stuff.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2362698

        I lived in Cincinnati, OH for two decades in two different installments, both of which had cicadas.  One really has to experience this to appreciate it.  So many on roads, cars occasionally slide into each other, a cicada carpet everywhere.  The noise, how loud a bazillion of these guys can be, is astounding.

        Birds love them.  At first.  Then they get spoiled and only eat cicada abdomens, leaving a head with sporadically buzzing wings and legs walking around for, how long IDK, not something I wanted to study.

        We went through a major tent caterpillar invasion in Michigan one year, giant trees stripped of all their leaves.  Again, the noise; one is inaudible but millions make a constant crunching noise.

        Maybe the air from one butterfly’s wings, etc. saying has some merit.

        Gotta love nature!

      • #2362724
        AskWoody Plus

        Anonymous: “Maybe the air from one butterfly’s wings, etc. saying has some merit.

        I doubt that very much. But maybe a bazillion butterfly wings will do the trick?

        Maybe even enough to flip the poles around, lower sea level, raise up a new continent or two above the waves? Fortunately, unlike cicadas, butterflies are not really big on syncing with each other.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2362820
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        an amazing large number of them will be singing in the trees this summer

        Until we cut down the trees and pave the ground to be able to park our CO2 producing, huge, waste of resources, status symbols.

        cheers, Paul

      • #2363200
        AskWoody Plus

        As Paul T has noted above, nothing is guaranteed to endure, as it might well be, one day, in the way of bulldozers. However, that I find that unlikely around here, or more precisely, considerably less likely because:

        (1) There is no oil, coal, natural gas, gold, uranium, diamonds under my feet, at least that any one has noticed — and it is unlikely that, if there was, it would have been missed.

        (2) There are large tracts of forest in sites owned by the national government that need to be kept free of buildings, wide roads, etc. for practical reasons.

        (3) There are plenty of green, forested areas besides those, including a whooping big National Nature Reserve next door, with some magnificent old-growth and second-growth trees framed in my window, that I can admire just by lifting my sight from the laptop while I type this, in this really fine Spring day.

        (4) Whether some out there might choose to deny it or ignore it, change is coming, like it or not, towards greener ways of doing things, because Nature is more powerful than politicians and of what people believe in. So Nature shall not be denied and we are going to be getting used to the idea of having to change our ways in many little and some really big ways, at great inconvenience and cost, personal and national, no ifs or buts. We might be slower at getting to it than it is wiser, but we shall still do it a lot faster than many would like.

        (5) And this is the good part:

        The Nature Reserve next door right now, after being almost silent of them through Winter, is now overflowing with the calls of song birds, soon to be joined by millions and millions of cicadas to the delight of the birds and of those like myself. Although I am not going to eat them (as some people will), just listening to them for me should be enough. And these I right now hear are all migratory song birds. Even the hummingbirds here are migratory; although not song birds, nevertheless pretty enough to look at. And yes: that is right, these are also, same as those song birds in the surrounding area, migratory, and they come, some of them, from as far as Central America, hard as that is to believe by looking at them. And, in Autumn, we have the migrating Canadian geese landing all over the place, making here a way station in their long journeys south. We have also mammals: in the preserve, and wandering into the gardens surrounding my apartment building, there is deer, and one of them is all white; raccoons, well they are everywhere these days; different kinds of small mammals, including the inevitable squirrels and field mice, a.k.a. voles, more than one kind of. In Winter, no song birds worth mentioning, but plenty of migratory and resident corvids (gracks, crows,etc.), plus starlings in reasonably, not huge, mumurations. And the ever majestically hovering buzzards.

        So, plenty of wild mammals and birds. And let us not forget: birds are really dinosaurs (*) that have survived a lot both before and after  the last T-Rex breathed its last. So, to anyone pinning after dinosaurs: put down that iPhone, remove those earbuds, and listen to the nearby dinosaurs, watch them jumping about or fluttering or even flying, and get something more out of your time on this world than the usual nonsense continuously piped to you and by you through your permanent hand-accessory.

        (*) Wikipedia in “Origin of Birds”: “The present scientific consensus is that birds are maniraptoran therapod dinosaurs that evolved during the Miocene.

        Something the like of the Audobon society, here in these US of A, fully concur with:

        And about those long-distance, frequent-flyier hummingbirds:

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

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