Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CICADAS  (Brood II) 

or, if you wish, Magicicada

     The swarms are here; the males are singing; and if you are living in the region extending from North Carolina to Massachusetts,  for the next few weeks your eyes must be focused on the ground lest you are prepared to remove your shoes before reentering your home.  It's happening! 
     This particular group of what are commonly, but errantly, called locusts, is Brood II of approximately a dozen and a half broods and is a part of the super family Cicadidae, or, plain and simply, cicadas.  Frankly, this brood is super in its own way as the predicted population number is in the billions and some have even said it could reach a trillion.  Almost sounds like Washington spending but who is counting, either here or there.  In any event they are here.  The singing which is constant is an invitational song presented by the males for ... well, you can figure that one yourself.  The noise reaches a measured 94 decibels.  
     This brood is a patient lot as it has waited 17 years under ground (anywhere from one to nine feet although probably less in our hard clay soil) for this moment in time.  The moment will pass once the male has found his counterpart and she has deposited her eggs (hundreds in fact) in soft tree limbs (usually the thinnest part of the branches).  The adults are then done.  Once the eggs have hatched the offspring falls to the ground and burrows away to await its return in 2030.
     Damage to the trees is usually minimal and is best characterized as a nuisance.  Fruit trees are the favorite and from the pictures you will see that our plum tree has received a lot of attention.
     I teased one of my granddaughters with the suggestion that we might collect some for dinner.  Wisely, she has learned to ignore me and did so on this occasion.  The fact is they are edible.  I have seen cautions for those who might have nut or shellfish allergies but the prized "chewies" are the newly hatched cicadas.  Supposedly they need to be blanched in the sun and allowed to solidify.  They then can be cooked immediately or frozen for a future snack.  So, if your refrigerator is bare, there may be an opportunity for a meal without having to leave you home.  Fortunately, we are close enough to 24 hour grocery stores that there will be no temptation for us.
     If you're not in the Carolina to Massachusetts region, there may be other broods coming for you in future years.  Be patient.  For the time being here are a few pics from our experience, thus far, with Brood II.

A close up of a cicada making a slow climb up the tree.

Our plum tree and a climber with the exoskeletons of previous climbers.

Another climber

Exoskeletons clinging to the leaves on the plum tree.

Unaffected are the flowers including our Iris and

our roses.

Emerging locations:  our walkway...

our lawn...

and at the base of a tree.

Enjoy,  and ...til later...

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