There are 11 other broods that follow this same cycle through different years and in different places. although seven broods are found only in Eastern North America. Brood I, for example, emerged in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee last year. To read more about the mystery of how this synchronized life cycle evolved please read this New York Times article "Here comes the Buzz" by Craig Gibbs (5/1/2013).
HERE ARE SOME FUN FACTS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT 'BUG' YOU:
- Cicadas are edible. HOWEVER you want to eat them when they first emerge from the ground and split out of their skin (when they're soft and white) . Exoskeletons are not digestable. According to The Wall Street Journal Q&A article (5/15/2013) by Justin Rocket Silverman, "You blanch them for about a minute in boiling water and they are ready to eat." You can find recipes online BUT... DON'T give them to pets - AND CHECK THAT YOU AREN'T ALLERGIC - some people have had allergic reactions to substances within the cicada (especially those allergic to shellfish).
- Cicadas like power tools, drums, heavy vibrations - turn on those power tools and they SING!
- To attract mates, males sing by vibrating their corrugated exoskeletons, or timbals, on each side of their thorax. They can do this 300-400 times per second and can be quite loud - some varieties can project sound more than a quarter of a mile.
- The cicada song has been clocked at 90 decibels (equivalent to some power motors) and can be heard miles away. Some Australian cicadas are so loud that researchers need ear protection!
- Cicadas will emerge at night from tunnels they dig to the surface, sing, mate and females will then deposit up to 600 eggs tree and shrub twigs and branches, and then die. Their tunnels help aerate the soil and their decomposing bodies return nitrogen to the soil.
- Cicada songs are species specific.
For the nature lovers and budding scientists in your home, school or summer camp, they couldn't have come at a better time.
With students itching for summer break with limited interest or attention span for reading-writing-and 'rithmatic,...
...For those bummed that they have to continue with summer school. ..
...For all your nature lovers and budding scientists...
HERE are some resources to observe and learn about these 'natural wonders' :
TEACHING SUGGESTIONS, FAMILY FIELD TRIPS AND INTERESTING RESOURCES:
- There is an OFFICIAL WEBSITE (A MUST VISIT) (www.magicicada.org) devoted to the magicicada Brood II. This site includes a:
- Detailed information about Brood II's 17-year cycle; periodical versus annual cicadas; how to protect trees and shrubs from "flagging" (when too many cicadas nest in one place they may cause dome damage to peripheral twigs); how to distinguish males from females; AWESOME photos of how they eat and develop; EXTENSIVE references.
- Map of cicada sitings AND some reference and further reading suggestions
- Magicicada Mapping project home page sponsored by National Geographic Society that describes why it is important to map periodical cicadas AND contains extensive reference materials
- 2013 Magicicada Brood II siting page where reported sitings are recorded. Just zoom in on the map for details. You can watch as the map expands, or take a quick visit to the more 'popoular cicada hot spots.'
- A list of the different broods, their 17 (or 13 year) year cycle dates and general locations
- Small scale composite map of periodical cicada broods;
- Magicicada behavior including male signals and courtship calls and the female response calls; This link has AWESOME recordings of the different cicada calls and signals. AWESOME! Here are a few of the links for a quick listen:
- Cicada Central - a site designed to be a clearinghouse for scientific information about cicada's (periodical cicadas, New Zealand cicadas, searchable databases, taxonomic information, labs and links.
- The New York Times post An Invasion of 17-Year-Olds, Loud, Lusty and Six-Legged by Sara Mislin Nir (6/7/2013) discusses reactions different people around New York who are inundated with these insects/pests. This is an excellent article about the human reaction and can lead to excellent discussions or written work (students can write/create scripts, films, articles, science fiction pieces) around them.
- Erin Ruberry for The Huffington Post (5/14/2013) has "Cicada Recipes: 10 Ways to Use Cicadas in your Next Soup, Sandwich, or Dessert" - for the brave (although it may be too late now - you may have to save these for 17 years). Again, check that you aren't allergic to substances within the cicada. A link, for example has been found that those allergic to shellfish should NOT eat cicadas.
- The New York Times Science section (6/3/2013) has an interactive map "A Century of Cicadas" showing where Brood II is now active. It also has links to related articles.
- Return of the 17-Year Cicadas
- Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (New Haven, CT) has an exhibit "! on view May 1 through September 3, 2013. This exhibit contains specimens of cicada from 1843, the oldest at any museum.
|Courtesy WSJ.com design by Golden Cosmos|
- SUPER RESOURCE FOR ALL AGES: The Wall Street Journal has an AWESOME (and short!) article by Daniel Akst (6/7/2013) "Lessons About Sound from the 17-Year Cicadas" that notes how researchers from several institutions including the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport RI have been trying to understand how cicadas get such long sustained sound out of such small bodies. Why the navy? According to the article:
"Cicadas are worth emulating because they're incredibly efficient. Motivated by their mating instincts, some cicada varieties can project sound more than a quarter of a mile...a remarkable 300 to 400 times per second...That could be valuable to the Navy in underwater communications or search-and-rescue operations. A device attached to a life preserver...could announce its location by emitting loud, cicada-like noises powered by the tiniest batter, or even the sun..."
- A seven-minute documentary on Cicadas 2013 - (above).
- Wall Street Journal has an entertaining overview, "5 Things Cicadas Won't Say"
- Clarinet with Cicada chorus introduces cicada background with film footage of them emerging, nesting on trees and dying. David Rothenberg is a musician who studies music and animal sounds. In this video he identifies three species of cicada "singing"
So, have you seen Brood II 2013?
Eaten any of them?
Please leave your own stories and your reactions in the "Comments" and thank you for your visit.