The Red-eyes are Coming!

News Brief by Kip Hansen – 1 April 2021

If you thought the latest zombie movie was scary, check out this headline from The New York Times

Billions (Yes, Billions) of Cicadas Soon to Emerge From Underground

Swarms of cicadas, part of a group called Brood X, are expected to appear in 18 states in the next few weeks, just in time to help orchestrate the soundtrack of summer. [ source ]

That’s right,  billions with a capital B, Billions of these lovely creatures will soon be climbing up the trunks of your trees and bushes and settling in to create maddeningly loud noise, all night long.  That is if you happen to be lucky enough to live in one of the fourteen (some say 18)  Eastern States of the U.S. where Brood X (that’s the Roman Numeral “X”, as in ten, not as in Gen X) of the 17-year cicada.  Specifically “Brood X contains three species, Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassinii and Magicicada septendecula, that congregate on different trees and have different male songs. The brood’s most recent major emergence occurred during the spring of 2004.” [ source ]

Where are we going to see this rather incredible natural phenomenon?

This map is general, and marks a whole state even if just a small portion of the state is expected to have an emergence of Brood X. 

The BBC provides this video on cicada emergence:

In answer to a few common questions:

  1.  Do cicadas bite or sting?  No, they are mostly harmless.
  2.  Will the cicadas damage my trees?  If you have an extreme infestation, maybe a little, but not much.  The answer is different if you own an apple or other fruit orchard.
  3. Will they hurt my new fruit trees, bushes or my garden?  “If you’re planting trees, wait until July. If your yard doesn’t get cicadas by the first week of June, it’s probably safe to plant in June. Otherwise, you can use netting to keep cicadas from laying eggs in the branches of fragile trees. It’s the egg-laying that does damage. They usually avoid garden and flowering plants because their stems aren’t strong enough for an egg nest.” [ source ]
  4.  Should I spray them with insecticide?  No, they will die in a few weeks anyway (generally only living as adults for 3-4 weeks).   
  5. If I live in one of the states on the map, will my yard experience an emergence?  Not necessarily, Brood X is very locale-specific and many states have them only in certain counties.   Adults must have laid eggs in your trees, the nymphs later dropping to the ground and burrowing into your soil, all 17 years ago.  If you had them in 2004, you will probably have them this year.
  6.  Why only every 17-years?  We don’t know.  Some other cicada species have a 13-year cycle and others are annual. 

So, what do adult cicadas do?

They are like college students, they only want to do one thing:  mate. “Above ground, cicadas only live for a few weeks, during which they mate. The female cuts V-shaped slits in the bark of young twigs and lays about 20 eggs in each, for a total of 600 or more eggs. After approximately 6 to 10 weeks, the eggs will hatch and the nymphs will drop to the ground, burrowing into the ground to feed and develop for the next 13 to 17 years.”  [ source ]

Having mated and laid their eggs, the adults die, restoring relative quiet to the land. 

In support of the truism that “There is at least one dedicated web site for any topic you can think of (and for many topics that you could never even imagine)” the Cicada Mania site has more information about all-things-cicada, including Brood X  t-shirts and mugs.

# # # # #

Author’s Comment:

Nature comprises some rather odd things that we humans find hard or so-far-impossible to understand.  The 13- and 17-year cycles of cicadas is one of those odd things.  Don’t ask me, I simply have no idea.   I don’t even have an opinion!

I do find it interesting.  Not only that there is a 17-year periodical cicada, but that my local Brood X is made up of three different species, all with the same 17-year timing.

Happy April Fools’ Day – this one is real though – but the joke is on us.  17 years? Really?

# # # # #

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Tom Halla
March 31, 2021 2:11 pm

I believe that the long duration of the emergence is due to the notion of predator satiation, so the vulnerable insects leave some survivors. The notion is that as both 13 and 17 are prime numbers, no predator could synchronize with them with a shorter breeding period.

PhilipA
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 31, 2021 2:21 pm

The author forgot being drenched in Cicada piss in a good season.
In Australia they can become so deafening that they affect your balance.
Our season is just about over now and I will soon be able to leave my doors open to be able to hear the TV.
The Kookas love it though and grow fat on Cicadas.
Maybe we should export some Kookaburras to the USA and then you too can get woken at 5AM by their communal wake up chorus

Reply to  PhilipA
March 31, 2021 2:35 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAFg5cX-gYg

Ring-neckedparakeet (Psittacula krameri) in Germany short before dakening on one of several sleeping trees.

comment image

There are several cities in Germany, and living near one of several trees is… ähhm… extremely loud –

Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 31, 2021 2:38 pm

comment image

Sleeping tree

You hear these birds the whole year every evening 😀 summer and winter

Last edited 1 month ago by Krishna Gans
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 31, 2021 3:37 pm

It’s amazing, we have been in a beergarden one summer, near such a sleeping tree, about 100m away. We had to stop to talk because of the crying. And just before final darkening, all birds stopped crying at the same moment, like a general power off.

Last edited 1 month ago by Krishna Gans
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 8:48 am

Yes, I saw the birds as I was curious 😀

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Krishna Gans
April 1, 2021 12:09 am

These birds survive the German winters? Wonderful. In Florida there were huge flocks of assorted hook-beaks when I lived there, they added an authentic tropical note to Dade and Broward counties until some vandals figured out how to capture them and sell them into the pet trade. Too bad they didn’t also trap the bands of monkeys that infected the Las Olas Islands!

Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 1:50 pm

Kip, the wild ones in South florida are also the small bright green monk (aka) quaker parrot. My significant other had one as a pet for several years until, alas one day as she was tending one of her rentals with the parrot outside in/on an open cage, a cat intervened. With Clipped wings, the parrot had no chance.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Rud Istvan
April 2, 2021 8:18 am

Rud – check your email. 🙂

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
April 1, 2021 8:44 am

They live among other places in northern India and southern Himalaya

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Krishna Gans
April 1, 2021 4:06 am

yeah theyre damned noisy we had 8 in cages and theyre a bird I wouldnt ever have again
cockies n corellas arent as bad

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  PhilipA
April 1, 2021 12:13 am

I love these birds! Once I visited the aviary at the National Zoo very early on a misty morning and there was a pair of them huddled on a branch by the path. The temptation to touch and then pick up one was overwhelming. They were quite tame and did not bite me or fly away. It would have been easy to take them home with me….

DaveW
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 31, 2021 9:35 pm

Kip – Being skeptical of of such Just So Stories makes sense to me, although I have passed this ‘predator satiation hypothesis’ along to students because it was more or less expected. Irregular ‘masting’ of seed production by some trees may be a predator satiation strategy, or at least has a better argument in its favour (if one ignores other reasons plants might have a good year), but most cicada species are annual or biennial and seem to do fine. Like the Golden Ratio, though, and other such phi, maybe there is something to it at a level we don’t quite understand. Could be and, even if the various broods are out of sync, it is a good story.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 4:30 am

That sounds more like a Creationist than an Evolutionary argument.

Cosmic
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 12:52 pm

They are annual here in MN where I live. Some years more, some years less. But always have some.

Felix
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 31, 2021 5:48 pm

I heard it as not the length specifically, but that different prime numbers mean that different varieties will seldom pop up in the same year. Sort of a mutual agreement to honor each other’s temporal territory.

John Dilks
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 31, 2021 9:56 pm

They will match up and once they do, they will match every 221 years.

John Dilks
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 6:45 pm

You are welcome. My intuition told me that something was wrong, so I had to check. Intuition for the win.

beng135
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 1, 2021 7:55 am

Here’s the map. I’m in the central Appalachians where they’ll be this May.

Cicada Broods.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by beng135
Steve Case
March 31, 2021 2:27 pm

In 1970 I was in the Navy and stationed in Washington D.C. They were everywhere.

Leonard
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 31, 2021 9:35 pm

Correct Steve C. And they all seem to talk long and loud just like the Cicadas. But unlike these bugs the DC residents seem to be always turning left.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Leonard
April 1, 2021 12:31 am

But what is worse is that these D.C. pests keep living on and on and on…. They don’t have the common decency to die after a few days.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Steve Case
March 31, 2021 9:18 pm

I was living outside Front Royal, VA when I was 6 and 7, so 1968/69, and they were out one of those years in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Scissor
March 31, 2021 2:27 pm

They get buzzed before mating, also college student like.

Last edited 1 month ago by Scissor
eyesonu
March 31, 2021 2:34 pm

Will increasing C02 make them worse or cycle more often? Will it be worse than we thought? How in the hell does someone know that they live in the ground for 17 years!?

gringojay
Reply to  eyesonu
March 31, 2021 5:32 pm

Cicada live underground off exudates from tree roots. Elevated CO2 increases root exudates. [Image citation = https://doi.org/1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142434%5D

49BF9B46-0D4C-4B2A-B27A-88502888C057.jpeg
gringojay
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 31, 2021 6:48 pm

Cicada are not doing their breeding underground. Those alive there only can eat so much & don’t seem to have been resource limited in the past. There has been suggestion of some link to “total” rainfall with the timing of emergence from the long cycle underground & expect there’ll be somebody publishing cicada nefarious effects of AGW on rain they modeled.

DaveW
Reply to  gringojay
March 31, 2021 10:27 pm

Interesting gringojay, but I think cicadas live off of tree roots themselves, not the exudates. Still, increased levels of exudates should be a good indicator of increased tree nutrition (exudates are generally considered leaked food for mutualistic microbes in the rhizosphere and more exudates should translate into better growth) and one would think the cicadas might respond to it. Still, you don’t want to be the only person at the party and mass emergences are probably mostly about sex, so unless the entire brood responded in the same manner …

ScarletMacaw
March 31, 2021 2:36 pm

I lived in Maryland in 1970 (?) when the 17th year hit. The one thing I remember is that it was the only year that our cherry tree had cherries that survived to ripen. Either the birds ate the cicadas instead of the cherries or the cicadas scared the birds away from the tree.

DaveW
Reply to  ScarletMacaw
March 31, 2021 9:55 pm

Hey Scarlet – I remember that emergence too – high rise dorms covered with thousands of cicadas. Amazing spectacle – but closer to the time the cherries bloom (and uni was in session) then mature as fruit (June/July if memory serves), so probably not a switch in food by the birds. Could be the birds were so well fed they fledged their young earlier than usual, though, and so were less likely to steal your cherries when they were ripe.

mspsgt
Reply to  DaveW
April 1, 2021 2:36 am

The emergence in 1987 in Howard /County, Maryland was especially large. I was a State Trooper stationed at the Waterloo Barracks in Jessup, Md and remember they were so thick when they struck your windshield, they would smear all over the place. The roadways got so slick with the bodies, several accidents were caused by them. It was really bad on US Rt#1 from Elkridge south to the Jessup area. The sound of them was just one long continuous drone.

Rhys Read
March 31, 2021 2:44 pm

The Chicago area brood is not due until 2024.

Alan Robertson
March 31, 2021 2:45 pm

Fond childhood memories, accompanied by the sounds of gentle Cicadas.

Pat from Kerbob
March 31, 2021 2:58 pm

Have never experienced this in the USA but i did in Australia in 2004, hiking through a forested park. The sound traveled in waves, passing over me and then returning, back and forth like waves in the ocean.

that was the least annoying thing that day, i brushed up against what looked like a poplar tree leaf, arm burned for about an hour, then every time i touched it, it started to burn again.

Australia is lots of fun

Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 31, 2021 9:48 pm

Here in South Africa cicadas can give you a merry little sting, like your “burning dermatitis”. It is worse than a bee sting… but then, America got those sissy bees that don’t really sting, you call ours “killer bees”!
So yah, cicadas can really hurt you, around here, anyway. Burns like hell, even lameness in that limb.
On the other hand, catching a cicada is an adventure, really good camouflage, maybe I touched something I thought was a cicada. That first lesson deterred me the past forty years or so from trying again.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 4:13 am

we have a nettle tree but the leaves are usually large n soft furry looking
the pains intense and ongoing for a long time
so I doubt you met that one
theyre also luckily fairly limited in areas.
wild figs maybe? they can give an itch similar to the garden variety does

DaveW
Reply to  Pat from Kerbob
March 31, 2021 10:00 pm

Pat – Depends on where you were in Australia, but several species of stinging trees (Dendrocnide species) grow on the rainforest margins in eastern Australia. By far the worst is the Gympie Gympie (Dendrocnide moroides) – very nasty. The stinging trees are essentially giant nettles and mostly only sting for a few hours, but the Gympie Gympie stings can last for months.

DaveW
Reply to  DaveW
March 31, 2021 10:01 pm

I should add, that duct tape is a good treatment – stick a piece of duct tape over the sting and pull up to remove the embedded stings. I’ve tried this and it does help if you do it soon after contact.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  DaveW
April 1, 2021 4:15 am

normally yes
the tree Dave W mentioned…dubious it would do anything but make the pain worse, they have barbed ends and basically a venom sac at the end ,the more its touched the worse the pain

DaveW
Reply to  ozspeaksup
April 1, 2021 11:56 pm

Oz – well, I can only speak from one experience and the testimony of others, but the duct tape treatment seems to be effective. The venom must dissipate and be degraded fairly quickly, and that seems to be the rule in the other stinging trees, so the Gympie Gympie ‘long haulers’ are probably having a continuing immune response to the embedded stings per se. If you want to do a controlled experiment, though, be my guest.

March 31, 2021 3:17 pm

The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared “climate delusion” a pandemic. The Secretary General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ethiopia) said at the headquarters of the UN sub-organization in Geneva at a virtual press conference that the disease has spread worldwide in a frightening manner and must finally be stopped in order to prevent greater damage to humanity.

Above all younger humans – and here particularly the female sex – are physically and psychologically among other things by the “Greta syndrome” recognizably highly contagious. This is characterized by a tendency to skip school and to see the vital trace gas “CO2” in the air, which is not possible for healthy people.

Those who regularly attend school and understand the content of chemistry and biology, for example, know that CO2, in combination with sunlight and water, is essential for plants to grow and produce oxygen for animals and humans.

The secretary-general went on to say that the WHO is allocating $5 billion worldwide to research and provide vaccines against “climate madness,” which is similar to “mad cow disease,” in which animals’ brains regress like sponges.

As a first precautionary measure, people in organizations should be put under quarantine who call the vital CO2 a “climate killer” and publicly claim that the earth, which has been cooling for 8000 years, would “heat up” due to the trace gas and that snowfalls and frost would soon no longer exist in the middle latitudes of the earth….

The Secretary General called for the immediate dissolution of the falsely named “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (IPCC), a sub-organization of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which has been identified as the original source of climate delusion.

According to the Secretary General, in Germany it is above all the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Federal Environment Agency and the German Weather Service (DWD) that are affected. These organizations, which are completely contaminated by “climate delusion,” should be closed immediately and all employees should be placed in permanent isolation until a negative test is available.

The Secretary General expressed his regret that the press conference could only take place virtually. But especially many editorial offices of the mainstream are already also contaminated by the “climate delusion”, as can be seen from the many false reports, which hardly give space to the sun as the dominant energy donor and the oceans as overpowering energy stores as the main driver of weather and climate.
Many journalists should therefore be regarded as highly contagious “superspreaders” and immediately isolated from healthy people.

German Source

John Dilks
Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 31, 2021 10:02 pm

If only it wasn’t an April 1st joke.

Reply to  John Dilks
April 1, 2021 8:45 am

:D, wouldt be fine 😀

March 31, 2021 3:22 pm

We had them at our Chatahoochee National forest inholding north Georgia cabin near Lake Blue Ridge in 2004. Really noisy. We will have them again in June. They are edible, and this year I may try a few recipes if we are able to get up during the emergence. My daughter ate them in China during her pre senior summer there (she majored in Chinese) and says they are quite good.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 31, 2021 3:44 pm

Further info for the adventurous. The definitive cicada cookbook was written in 2004 by Jenna Jadin, titled ‘Cicada-Licious. They are supposed to taste somewhat like soft shelled crab, with overtones of boiled peanuts (goober peas). Both are among my favorite food treats. Definitely going up to the Georgia cabin for Memorial Day, staying a couple of weeks. Heck, its also fly fishing trout season on the Toccoa River just a half mile down the mountain from the cabin.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 31, 2021 4:01 pm

What — they don’t taste like chicken? 🙂

Reply to  Pat Frank
March 31, 2021 5:05 pm

Pat, great joke.
From me who is an ardent but admittedly amateur chef, lots of stuff tastes like chicken because chicken per se has little taste until real old and tough—like my Slovak grandma’s chicken paprikash recipe (stewed old laying hen chicken, paprika, sour creme, vinegar, put over haluschki—doughy egg noodles).

As a Boy Scout, I twice had the privilege of eating fire roasted rattlesnake (both times the snakes tried to take out my younger scouts and it did not end well for them on the
Appalachian trail, so, big eastern diamondbacks). Yup, tasted like chicken but with LOTS more small bones.

We also do gator down here in South Florida. Yup, tastes like chicken—not much taste at all. If you all visit down here, go for the Keys conch, NOT the Everglades gator, fritters. (Truth in advertising, both are farm raised, not wild caught.)

Pat Frank
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 31, 2021 5:57 pm

I’m up for the chicken paprikash and the grilled rattler, Rud, but no more alligator, please.

I’ve tried it — tasteless as you say but with a slightly slimy texture I can live without.

Yet one more experience not to be missed and not to be repeated. 🙂

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Pat Frank
April 1, 2021 12:40 am

The trick to gator nuggets is the sauce. Without a good, piquant sauce it is bland. I used to make one with lemon juice, garlic, and assorted fresh herbs, salt, and hot sauce to taste.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
April 1, 2021 11:57 am

Pamela, I can’t think of very much that wouldn’t taste good after marinating in lemon juice, garlic, fresh herbs, salt, and added hot sauce. 🙂

Maybe chocolate.

P Walker
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 31, 2021 11:20 pm

Trout love cicadas.

Wade
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 31, 2021 5:17 pm

I will let you eat the cicada’s first. I will watch, while eating a juicy, thick steak.

John of Fabius
Reply to  Wade
March 31, 2021 6:27 pm

Now that you mention juicy steak….we used to eat the black and orange ones every summer in southern Colorado at the base of the Spanish Peaks. Funny thing was, the taste always reminded me of crispy fat on a big juicy steak. The recipe was hot butter in a cast iron skillet, remove the two big barbed legs( they’re a bitch if the get stuck in your gums) and the wings. Into the hot butter and move them around for a couple minutes.
They were great! My only problem was I couldn’t look at them when I popped the in my mouth.

lee riffee
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 31, 2021 8:28 pm

I ate some of them in ’04. Put them on a salad, kind of like winged low-carb croutons….they didn’t have much taste on their own, but rather took on the taste of the salad dressing.

Joe Wagner
March 31, 2021 3:33 pm

They are VERY highly local. I remember a few years where one grove of trees would be totally silent, while the next was too loud to bear.
Gotta keep the dogs away from them though. They can’t digest part of them (the wings I think) and they’ll block up their tummy. Plus, cicada breath isn’t a fun thing to smell.

March 31, 2021 3:53 pm

Southern France (Provence) cicades, without them, it’s not Provence 😀

Last edited 1 month ago by Krishna Gans
Ron Long
March 31, 2021 3:53 pm

7.Should I hit them with a flamethrower? Yes, especially if your trees are a little dry and located close to your neighbors house.

Gunga Din
March 31, 2021 4:03 pm

I remember them coming out in the Cincinnati area when I was a kid. (not sure which brood)
We’d put a bunch in a coffee can and stick it someone’s locker at school.
It also made for great fishing at a local pond. Anything that hit the water would get a strike, even a bare hook.
The only direct injury I’ve ever heard of was a picture of a kid in paper back then. A cicada mistook his forearm for a twig and tried to lay eggs in it. His forearm looked like Popeye’s. (Must have been an allergic reaction.)
Some indirect injuries may have occurred from car accidents. The roads can get slick after several thousand are run over.

PS I remember a TV show (History Channel?) saying that when they come out in the Cincinnati area, it is the largest insect swarm in the world.

DaveW
Reply to  Gunga Din
March 31, 2021 10:15 pm

Call me skeptical Gunga Din, but the kid would have had to be very placid to sit still for a female jabbing her ovipositor into the arm and the female cicada a Darwin Award contender.

Cicadas have beaks for puncturing plant tissue, though, and defensive bites from them are not uncommonly reported (common enough to make it into the medical entomology texts). Also, allergic reaction just from a cicada landing on the arm is quite possible. Cockroaches can cause rashes just from running across your skin, if you have been sensitised, so why not cicadas, especially when there are millions of them shedding antigens all over the place.

Road accidents for sure – this happens during many massive insect emergences. I can remember carefully driving through mayfly slick roads.

Gunga Din
Reply to  DaveW
April 1, 2021 2:14 pm

I don’t blame you for being skeptical.
Cicadas are harmless and this story is a 50+ year old memory of a 66 year old guy.
I remember seeing the picture in the paper of the swollen arm. It definitely tried to lay eggs in his arm. I also remember he didn’t shoo it away when it landed. I don’t remember much else about the story. (He probably did once the harmless thing hurt him but I don’t remember.)
I tried to find a reference to the story or incident but, it goes back to 1968 or so.
(The story was in either the Cincinnati Enquirer or the Cincinnati Post.)

taxed
March 31, 2021 4:17 pm

We don’t have anything like this in England.
But thanks to today’s very warm weather it was nice to hear the buzz of bumble bees and see butterflies feeding on flowers as l went for a walk in the country in March.

ResourceGuy
March 31, 2021 4:56 pm

Will this be added to list of increased risk from global warming for the insurance industry, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve (SF)? Or will be it added to the reasons for stimulus No. 9–The American Bug Rescue Plan?

ResourceGuy
March 31, 2021 5:03 pm

Not exactly locusts but close enough for climate change media consultants and assorted scare tactics. The NYT and CNN viewers won’t now the difference. NPR can find and interview an expert at a university to confirm it.

This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your fathers nor your forefathers have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.
— Exodus 10:3–6

littlepeaks
March 31, 2021 5:38 pm

In Colorado Springs we don’t have any cicadas. But to the north of us, in the Black Forest (not Germany), they do. But those cicadas are a different species, much smaller than the ones I’m acquainted with from back east.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  littlepeaks
March 31, 2021 5:55 pm

Cicadas are out every August along the Front Range, not particularly loud or annoying. They aren’t 13 or 17 year variety.

littlepeaks
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 9:50 pm

No — they’re smaller, but black. And they don’t make so much noise.

Peta of Newark
March 31, 2021 5:43 pm

Holy Cow
Finally, But maybe not

Going back to year 2005 or 2006, while I was s cow farmer in the very North East corner of Cumbria. Actually a mile north of the line of Hadrian’s Wall.

It was summer and as cow farmers do, we ‘follow the sun’.
When it rises, so do we.
So, about 4 or 5 in the morning, starting to get light (nautical twilight?) I found myself heading from bed towards the kitchen looking for a drink. Sometimes water or sometimes coffee. Coffee helps me sleep, it really does.

Passing through the hallway and past my clear glass-panelled front door there was this huuuuuge flying thing hovering outside.
About 3 foot off the ground and 6″ away from the glass, it looking in at me looking out looking at it.
And it just stayed there hovering. The pair of us just froze, who got the bigger shock?

Took me a good few moments to realise, I should go get a camera.
I did but inside the 15 seconds it took, ‘thing’ had gone.

But it was bigger than described here – I had a direct comparison with ‘something’
i.e. To pretty up my garden I’d just recently got THE most garish piece of tasteless plastic tat, nominally a dragonfly, to brighten the place up a bit.

Fluorescent green with a fat body and 4 transparent green wings fixed on springs – so it ‘flew’ when the wind blew. It was about 6 inches square and was planted, via an oversize welding rod, in a flower pot on my doorstep.
Directly beside/below this flying monster bug thing.

They could have been twins – it was that big. Six inch wings easily and it was fat. Maybe about 5 inches long. Hovered perfectly in front of the glass.

So, what was it?
I puzzled and puzzled. Got nowhere.
Interweb was useless at the time but I didn’t know what to search for.
My only idea, from where I’ve no idea, was that it was ‘something’ that did what Cicadas do.
i.e. Live in the ground for years and then emerge.
Plenty things that do that, especially ‘Leather Jackets’ turning into ‘Daddy Long Legs’
They’re a real pest for folks who grow grasses of any/most variety. They eat the roots.

Anybody everybody I told or asked them about thought I was nuts.

So did I see a Cumbrian Cicada? Do such things exist?
It wasn’t singing but I suppose, it was strictly still night-time, or very early morn. i.e. cold

Quote: “”New Forest cicada is the only cicada native to the UK“”
here
And even then, from the link
Quote:””It is one of the UK’s largest insects sizing up to an impressive 3cm in length“”
The thing that visited me was nearly twice that many inches long

I can still picture it like it happened yesterday, it really was just ‘something else’
I do genuinely wonder what became of it, did it come to ‘be friends’ with my green plastic dragonfly? That’s the only thing that makes any sense

And now 15 years down the line and with the ‘Emotionalism’ that comes from being a Stroke Survivor, I feel really sad about it.
I hope it was OK after it came see me.

Last edited 1 month ago by Peta of Newark
Bill Parsons
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 31, 2021 8:46 pm

flying thing hovering outside + 6″ + “hovered perfectly in front of the glass” + sleep-deprived viewer = hummingbird (?)

Birds curious about their own image in glass under certain light conditions.

Steve Case
March 31, 2021 5:48 pm

A few years back one of these (similar) critters crawled up the tree outside of our kitchen window So I coaxed it onto a chunk of firewood & took it inside and got some photos as it crawled out of its skin and pumped its wings open. Took about an hour.
comment image

Steve Case
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 31, 2021 7:21 pm

kip at i4.net didn’t go, so I sent it to your gmail address.

Array
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 1:42 am

at = @ Duh! Now you should get it.

Steve Case
Reply to  Array
April 1, 2021 10:19 am

Array ? That’s weird, I posted that

Gunga Din
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 2:29 pm
H.R.
March 31, 2021 5:58 pm

Where I grew up, there were two or three cicada emergences while I was in my single digit years.

The neighborhood kids, myself included, would each catch one and tie a 3′ to 4′ length of sewing thread around their abdomen.

Then we’d fly them like control-line airplanes. They fly ’round and ’round quite nicely.

I grew up poor (didn’t know it, though). We had to make most of our own toys.

lee riffee
Reply to  H.R.
March 31, 2021 8:36 pm

I remember one time when I was a kid I found a praying mantis and I tied a string around its abdomen and “walked” it around like a tiny pet. When I got bored I cut it loose.

Gunga Din
Reply to  H.R.
April 1, 2021 2:32 pm

My grandma showed us that only we just used a beetle.

Michael S. Kelly
March 31, 2021 5:59 pm

Here in Northern Virginia, we have something called the bot fly. Describing its life cycle is tricky, since it has no apparent beginning or end. But here goes, anyway.

The adult bot fly does only one thing: it goes around laying eggs on the ground. It doesn’t eat anything, because it has no mouth. As a result, it dies in about 5 days.

Nearly a year passes, and then (in our area) squirrels foraging for food inhale and swallow some of these eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae, which then burrow through the living flesh of the squirrel to settle in the shoulder region. They eat what they need to transform into the bot fly, then, in Alien fashion, explode through the squirrel’s skin, and fly away like some huge, malignant bumblebee. The squirrel population appears horribly mangled in late August and early September, but they mostly recover. In the meantime, these hideous flies go around laying the eggs for next year, then die.

In the 1960s, there was a toy called The Useless Box. It was a box with a lever on top. One would throw the lever, and the box would begin to vibrate and sway, making ominous rumbling sounds, until suddenly a trapdoor on the top opened, and a mechanical hand reached out and switched the lever off before withdrawing back into the box. That’s the human analog of the bot fly, IMHO.

Nature may be wonderful, but she’s also kind of odd a lot of the time.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Kip Hansen
March 31, 2021 11:14 pm

Ewwww!

lee riffee
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 31, 2021 8:38 pm

Botflies that infest squirrels also are found on chipmunks and rabbits. They are informally known as “warbles” (no where that name came from….)

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  lee riffee
March 31, 2021 11:11 pm

Yes, but we’ve only seen one rabbit here, and no chipmunks. We have an abundance of foxes, hawks, and even eagles that seem to take care of most of the smaller critters. So I’ve never had the opportunity to see anything but walking wounded squirrels (and the squirrels are my outdoor pets).

Oldseadog
Reply to  lee riffee
April 1, 2021 3:07 am

Warble Flies are common in G.B. They lay egs on the heels of cattle, the larva lives inside the skin of the leg and then eats its way up the leg to emerge from the rump. The holes ruin the skin making them worth little.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
April 1, 2021 2:37 pm
PaulH
March 31, 2021 6:07 pm

Some good information and maps at UConn’s Cicadas site. For some fun, here’s the Cicada Mania blog.

Phil.
March 31, 2021 6:36 pm

I remember the last two emergences here both very noisy! They even have had a song written about them: ‘Day of the Locust’ by Bob Dylan.

Phil.
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 6:57 am

Yeah, he was actually receiving an honorary degree from Princeton when he encountered the Cicadas in 1970.

Craig from Oz
March 31, 2021 7:04 pm

Don’t forget the key talking points

  • Global Warming
  • It might be worse then we thought, and
  • It may already be too late

Also

  • Please give us grant money.

😀

PhilipA
Reply to  Craig from Oz
March 31, 2021 8:16 pm

Here are the major Australian varieties.
Common and Unusual Identifications – Cicadas – The Australian Museum
With regards to Birds the rainbow Lorikeet have sleeping trees which can be identified by the large amount of droppings underneath. Don’t park your car there.

Rainbow Lorikeet – The Australian Museum

They are in their thousand in treed suburbs. I put out sunflower seeds for the King parrots but sometimes I get up to 40Rainbow Lorikeets which then bull the King Parrots away.

By far the most annoying a long Beak Corellas which are an outback bird and hundreds congregate in trees at night. But they never shut up. They argue all bloody night!
long beak corella – Google Search

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Craig from Oz
March 31, 2021 9:20 pm

The global warming connection:

Crickets supposedly “crick” in sync with the temperature.

Professor Google tells us:

“The frequency of chirping varies according to temperature. To get a rough estimate of the temperature in degrees fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature.Nov 19, 2019″

Surely the cicada are telling us in some way about the demise of our species and destruction of our planet… if we could only understand them!

lee riffee
March 31, 2021 8:42 pm

I remember the first time I ever saw a cicada emergence – I am guessing it was 1978 or 79 and I was living in central Maryland at the time. I went around with an old coffee can and picked up all the shed skins I could find, which were quite numerous on tree trunks. I must have kept about three dozen, and to this day I still have them (though not in the same coffee can). I also saved some from the 2004 brood, while also living here in Maryland. Not sure how many to expect where I live now (same county as 04′ but about 15 minutes away) as I’ve only lived here for about 5 years. We have lots of woods and trees so there may be a fair number.

lee riffee
Reply to  Kip Hansen
April 1, 2021 4:34 pm

Will do!

badEnglish
March 31, 2021 10:06 pm

Thanks for another interesting post, Kip. I am wondering about the maturation cycles (17, 13 and 1 year) you mentioned. When I was visiting Springfield, Missouri, on work assignment several years ago, the cicadas were out. Being from Vancouver, BC, I’d never heard them before and asked the friendly hotel staff about the interesting sounding insects. I was told they came there on a two year cycle, so I was lucky. Does the two year explanation sound correct? Just curious.

Thanks!

badEnglish

Jon
April 1, 2021 1:36 am

Hey!
You didn’t explain how climate change will.make things worse!

Gunga Din
Reply to  Jon
April 1, 2021 2:56 pm

Climate Change has made the harmless little things carboniverous?

ozspeaksup
April 1, 2021 4:05 am

like the bamboos that all flower globally every 100 yrs or so
and the jade plants that I have seen flower only once in my 60+yrs as well

Charles C Knight
April 1, 2021 9:15 am

In 1970’s Brood X outbreak, our house was the epicenter of the Brood X with dead cicada shells 6 inches under an old oak tree. During the latest outburst, 17 years ago, a dear friend visited us in the early evening mentioning how beautiful the flowers were and what kind of flower are they? (Cicadas are stark white after molting). So I gave her a pair of clippers to cut a few. The resounding shriek was not unexpected. She is still a friend thank goodness.

Cicada 2004 TIFF (26).jpg
TonyG
April 1, 2021 10:26 am

I thought it was 7 years? Is there a species that has a 7 year cycle?

I remember about 7 or 8 years ago the cicada noise here in NC, I’ve been expecting them again this year.

Cosmic
April 1, 2021 12:48 pm

I have lost my upper register of hearing…I hardly hear the ones around here anymore. In fact did not hear them at all last summer. I live in MN. They are a higher pitched cicada around here compared to other parts of the country where I have witnessed them being more of a ‘scratching, buzz’ rather than the high pitched buzz they do around these parts. I do love the sound, at least occasionally as they bring back fond memories of summer. When I was a kid, we were told it was the ‘wire’s buzzing on hot days! lol.

rah
April 2, 2021 6:15 am

I Love to hear them when I am outside. They are natures symphony to me. But not so much on the road. A few years ago I ran into a swarm on I-70 east of Washington, PA that actually caused a traffic backup. They were everywhere. I could hear them in the big truck even with the windows up and dozens of them bouncing onto my windshield. 

Other bugs that can cause a mess are the Love bugs down south and in Texas on I-35 south of San Antonio I ran into a mass movement of dragon flies that was so thick people were pulling over with overheated engines because the bugs had so clogged their radiators. Crickets also come in a swarm down that way sometimes.

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