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Periodical cicadas will emerge in 2024. Here’s what you need to know about these buzzing bugs.

Periodical cicadas are not present every spring, but when they emerge, they arrive in noisy, buzzing hordes. This year, billions of these beady-eyed insects are expected to appear in several U.S. states. Here is what you need to know about cicadas.

Periodic cicadas

There are two types of periodical cicadas: those that emerge every 13 years and those that emerge every 17 years. They emerge in clutches labeled with Roman numerals.

In 2024, two broods will emerge: Brood XIX, which is on a 13-year cycle, and Brood XIII, which is on a 17-year cycle. These two broods have not met since 1803, according to a University of Connecticut study.

Brood XIX will emerge in parts of the Midwest and Southeast, while Brood XIII will primarily be seen in Illinois.

Cicadas emerge from underground once the soil reaches 64 degrees, cicada expert Matthew Kasson told CBS News. So cicadas in South Carolina might emerge in April, when temperatures begin to warm there, while those in cooler climates like the upper Midwest might not emerge until June.

In 2024, they are expected in May or early June, depending on location, according to Ken Johnson, professor of horticulture at the University of Illinois.

How long do cicadas live above ground?

Cicadas spend the vast majority of their lives underground and emerge at the end of the 13 or 17 year cycle. When they emerge, their job is to reproduce.

To attract mates, male cicadas start buzzing loudly – ​​this is why the presence of cicadas is accompanied by a loud buzzing sound. They begin this process about four to five days after emerging, according to Johnson.

The females beat their wings to signal to males that they want to mateKasson said.

Cicadas spend the vast majority of their lives underground and emerge at the end of the 13 or 17 year cycle. When they emerge, their job is to reproduce.

Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

Females lay their eggs in woody plants, using their ovipositor, or egg-laying organ, to inject about 10 to 20 eggs into the branches. Females can lay between 500 and 600 eggs, Johnson said.

The eggs hatch about six weeks after they are laid and the babies drop to the ground, eventually burrowing into the ground, where they will stay for 13 or 17 years.

However, their parents die shortly after the mating process, which lasts only about a month above ground.

Are cicadas dangerous?

While the emergence of billions of bugs While it may seem apocalyptic from the ground, cicadas pose no threat to humans or other animals.

However, they molt when they emerge, leaving behind their crusty exoskeletons. And when they die, they can smell death on the road, according to Johnson.

Wild animals like birds or snakes can eat cicadas, and it is generally not dangerous to do so. Pets sometimes eat them too.

“They are not toxic to pets. They will not sting or bite your pet,” said Dr. Cynthia Gonzalez of Family Pet Animal Hospital. recently told CBS Chicago. “The only problem your pet might encounter is if they ingest a large amount, or if they are a smaller dog if they eat a small piece of the exoskeleton – this can sometimes really irritate their digestive tract.”

Johnson warns against using insecticides to try to keep cicadas away from plants because they are not effective and animals that eat cicadas could be harmed by the chemicals.

Can you eat cicadas?

Humans can also eat cicadas, Johnson said. It is best to eat them as adults after they have molted, but before their exoskeleton hardens. People with shellfish allergies should avoid eating cicadas.

A few cicadas. however, could be infected by a sexually transmitted fungus called Cicadin Massospora, Kasson told CBS News. It’s not clear what the fungus does to organisms that eat infected cicadas.

A chalky plug emerging from a fungus-infected “zombie cicada”.

Matthew Kasson

The fungus occupies a third of the cicada’s body, replacing it with a chalky plug. Their genitals fall off and they become hypersexual, even though they can no longer reproduce.

These so-called “zombie cicadas” continue their normal activities, despite being overrun by a fungus, Kasson said.

“We know that many animals gobble up these cicadas as they appear: snakes and birds. Is it possible that they have an effect on the animals that eat them? Yes, it is possible.” But, he added, fewer than 5 percent of cicadas are infected with the fungus, and researchers have yet to observe an impact on other wildlife.

What do cicadas eat?

Cicadas use trees and bushes for food. They pierce small twigs and extract minerals and some carbohydrates from the plants’ water, according to experts at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse.

Johnson advises not planting new trees before the periodic emergence of cicadas, as cicadas can damage them. If you have small trees and shrubs, you can put netting around them to keep cicadas out – just make sure the openings are no larger than 1/4 inch so the insects can’t get in.

Are cicadas locusts?

Contrary to popular belief, cicadas are not “pestilent locusts”. They are not even locusts, although they are known to feed on plants.

“People really shouldn’t be concerned. Cicadas are not defoliating insects and have nothing to do with locusts,” says Sandy Liebhold, a research entomologist at the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Morgantown. , in West Virginia. “They won’t eat your plants, vegetables, or even tree leaves. They only emerge to mate and lay eggs.”

Most trees that cicadas eat will be good, according to Purdue University.

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