Thursday, 2 May 2013

Vast cicada swarm due in USA

April 2013. Residents of north-eastern USA will soon observe an event not seen since 1996: The coming mass emergence of the Brood II cicadas. 

1.5 million per acre!
After spending 17 years living underground as nymphs, these large, winged insects will emerge to live out their short adult lives above ground. As many as 1.5 million cicadas can live per acre, and they are noisy too, they will certainly be heard: Cicadas have a unique call that can reach a whopping 90 decibels.

As alarming as this sounds, cicadas are actually quite harmless. In fact, they have positive effects on plants and provide food for many different animals, including birds, mammals, reptiles, even other insects. 

Brood 2 cicadas appear every 17 years across New York, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. They measure just 1½ inches long and live for just 2 weeks. They live underground for 17 years, feeding on the juices of tree roots, before emerging to mate once every 17 years (That’s a long wait. Ed.). They live above ground for just 2 weeks before they die. 

There are several broods that appear once every 13 or 17 years in a very unusual life cycle, and when they overlap, it must be like the biblical plague.

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