The 17 Year Cicadas

moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva.Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
edited May 2004 in Off-Topic
They have finally arrived
This (as any Cincinnatian has been hearing in the local press ad nauseum) is the year of the return of the 17 year cicadas. In the next few months, five billion of them will come out of the ground in the greater Cincinnati area to have constant sex and then die in droves. I have a few memories of the last time they came to Cincinnati: feeding them to our 13 inch fish, collecting their carapaces off of the bark. I remember them mostly as a blurry image of noise and darting black bodies up among the trees. I also remember running shrieking back into the house after one landed squarely on the back of my neck and started buzzing. I was three years old at the time, and while cicadas are pretty big normally, they seem a lot bigger to a three year old. Ironically, I've been looking forward to their return ever since.

Cicadas spend most of their lives as grubs digging tunnels underground and eating tree roots. Then after 17 years in the dark, they wait until the ground warms up and a strong rain loosens the topsoil, and then emerge. They come out of the ground in their nymph stage. They are about an inch and a half long, with a light brown translucent carapace. They are also unspeakably cute. They crawl along slowly, they are very soft and fat, and as far as animals go they are infinitely trusting.

They finally began to emerge today after the rain. Several started crawling up my legs as I stood barefoot in the dirt. Their little claws are designed to be strong enough to support their fat bodies while they go through the next phase of their development and are well suited for climbing up just about anything. There was a continuous parade of them marching up the trunks of the trees. All told, there were probably several hundred in my front yard alone.

It's an interesting feeling having a dozen baby cicadas all agree that you, in fact, are a tree. They tickle. I spent about an hour playing with them and carrying them out of places where they are likely to get stepped on or run over. This was all pretty incredible, but the real magic didn't begin until the sun went down.

Once the nymph cicadas are out of the ground and have gotten sufficiently high on whatever plant they happen to emerge next to, they dig their claws in and park themselves securely. Their shells then split open and a fragile pale white adult cicada emerges. The entire process from the time they come out of the ground to the time they become a fully functional cicada takes about six hours. I had hoped to see this happening at some point, but I had no idea how impressive it would be.

Its probably hard to imagine, but a cicada emerging from its shell is incredibly beautiful, especially at night. They sit suspended by their abdomens from their shells, their white wings wet and crumpled, their bodies ivory and still. Slowly their soft fresh legs strengthen and grasp their shells, and they pull the rest of their damp bodies out into the air. Their wings unfurl in perfectly symmetrical patterns and pulsate as blood begins to awaken them. Their red eyes shimmer. They remain perfectly still clinging to their old carapaces as their diaphanous wings and delicate bodies dry, white shadows among the leaves. Slowly their bodies darken, their wings turn orange, and eventually they fly off. Imagine this process taking place over several hours with tiny invisible movements. Now imagine hundreds of them hidden among the trees and plants doing it in unison.

My mom and I sat outside with the flashlight for several hours watching them and taking pictures. This was without question the most beautiful natural event I have ever seen.

pictures
user posted image
Post edited by Unknown User on
«1

Comments

  • ConfuzorConfuzor Awaiting Authorization Join Date: 2002-11-01 Member: 2412Posts: 1,079
    Heard about this upcoming event on the newspaper about a month or two ago.

    Would be absolutely great to see some pics, if at all possible.

    Kudos to the nice imagery, I never imagined them being actually adorable...
    I have no mouth, and I must scream.

    (still stuck with 'Awaiting Authorization')
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    My mom left the cable for the camera at her office, but I will post the good ones tomorrow.
  • eedioteediot Members Join Date: 2003-02-24 Member: 13903Posts: 3,281 Fully active user
    edited May 2004
    A perfect post moultano.

    Cicadas are without a doubt the most fun things you can have... I'm waiting for our Cicada season as well down here in Australia, as I missed it last year. No doubt I will try and make time to just sit down and enjoy a hot cloudless day with my favourite buddies - the cicadas smile.gif

    Again, thank you for the amazing post. Wonderful imagery, and about a topic I love... It really brings to mind the perfect day.

    Thanks.
    Winner of World's Most Handsome Poster Award 2008
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    QUOTE (eediot @ May 18 2004, 04:19 PM)
    A perfect post moultano.

    Cicadas are without the most fun things you can have... I'm waiting for our Cicada season as well down here in Australia, as I missed it last year. No doubt I will try and make time to just sit down and enjoy a hot cloudless day with my favourite buddies - the cicadas smile.gif

    Again, thank you for the amazing post. Wonderful imagery, and about a topic I love... It really brings to mind the perfect day.

    Thanks.

    Thanks. smile.gif

    I wrote this originally for my blog which I am trying to make worth reading. I'm glad you liked it.
  • MedHeadMedHead Members, Constellation Join Date: 2002-12-19 Member: 11115Posts: 2,729
    Most of my area has been paved over, so I haven't seen any so far. Yay!
    image
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    edited May 2004
    Pictures!
    user posted image
    user posted imageuser posted image
    user posted image

    Here are the rest of them Cicadas!
  • TequilaTequila Members Join Date: 2003-08-13 Member: 19660Posts: 3,020
    To paraphrase Arnie in Predator: "They're one ugly mother-trucker"
  • UnderDOGUnderDOG Members Join Date: 2003-04-05 Member: 15221Posts: 1,348 Fully active user
    My cat really love them too. She will chase the around for hours, but very rarly with she actully catch/eat one.
    Retired (?) from NS
  • BurrBurr Members Join Date: 2002-11-19 Member: 9358Posts: 2,148 Advanced user
    moultano, you live in Cincinatti? Im a weekday Columbus resident!

    Anyway, I HATE THOSE THINGS! I despise large insects. THe last Cicada season I was mowing the grass next to a cornfield and they started jumping all over me, stupid things! That, and they are really noisy and make a huge mess of my front windshield!
    QUOTE
    Being drunk is just like having a really low framerate


    I could watch the world burn right now, and while it burned I would have a beer in one hand and laugh
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    QUOTE (Burr @ May 19 2004, 02:03 AM)
    moultano, you live in Cincinatti? Im a weekday Columbus resident.

    w00t for Ohioans! biggrin.gif
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    I'd be interested to hear how far this brood extends. I know this happens other places in the country other than Cincinnati. Anyone have any stories to tell?
  • UnderDOGUnderDOG Members Join Date: 2003-04-05 Member: 15221Posts: 1,348 Fully active user
    Well, I live in St. Louis, but they arent predicted to showe up in this area untill the week of may 24th. When they do, I'm sure my cat will go insane, and my mom and sister will be scared out of thier wits.
    Retired (?) from NS
  • BergerBerger Members, Constellation Join Date: 2002-11-16 Member: 8945Posts: 621
    I believe Brood X is coming out this year all up and down the east coast. Here in Maryland they've been trickling out of the ground for the last week or so, but they seem to have exploded over the last couple days. The noise is deafening.
    user posted image
    [C*B]Berger :|: berger.txt
  • UnderDOGUnderDOG Members Join Date: 2003-04-05 Member: 15221Posts: 1,348 Fully active user
    QUOTE (Berger @ May 19 2004, 03:54 AM)
    The noise is deafening.

    Oh yeah, I completely forgot about the noise, this wont be fun confused.gif .
    Retired (?) from NS
  • coilcoil Amateur pirate. Professional monkey. All pance. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor Join Date: 2002-04-12 Member: 424Posts: 7,511
    Very well written, and great photos. (:

    I looked up a bit of information on cicadas:

    1) Most cicadas have 2- to 8-year-long life cycles, and are unsychronized - some will come up every year.

    2) Periodic cicadas are all synchronized, coming up at the same time. There are three 17-year species (which are found in northern states) and four 13-year species which are more southern.

    3) Though they're called "17-year locusts," they're not actually locusts (which are more closely related to grasshoppers). They're harmless.
  • AlcapwnAlcapwn "War is the science of destruction" - John Abbot Members Join Date: 2003-06-21 Member: 17590Posts: 1,965
    good thing there not coming to long island wow.gif
    *IMAGE BALEETED.* Sigs may not exceed 400x75 and/or 40KB. No exceptions. -Talesin
  • DarkDudeDarkDude Members Join Date: 2003-08-06 Member: 19088Posts: 543
    They should start showing up here in Nebraska pretty soon. Here, there are the normal cicadas coming out every 17 years, but we've also got a 5-8 year species it seems, they come out en masse, but the year varies. We've been getting warm temps and plenty of sunshine so conditions are pretty much perfect for the 17 year cicadas, but we'll just have to wait and see as there have been no signs of them yet.

    On another note, do cicadas only show up where trees are? I'm living in a pretty treeless area right now, so I'm not sure whether I'm going to get to see many. If I don't, that would kind of suck, really is a spectacular sight.
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    Just wait until the next soaking rain. That's what triggered them here. I think they lay their eggs in tree bark and they fall to the ground when they hatch. It doesn't take many trees to produce a pretty sizable population of them though, so you will probably still get to see them.
  • CabooseCaboose title = name(self, handle) Members, Constellation Join Date: 2003-02-15 Member: 13597Posts: 4,708 Advanced user
    I wish they showed up in Denver...
  • MedHeadMedHead Members, Constellation Join Date: 2002-12-19 Member: 11115Posts: 2,729
    QUOTE (moultano @ May 19 2004, 05:54 AM)
    Just wait until the next soaking rain. That's what triggered them here. I think they lay their eggs in tree bark and they fall to the ground when they hatch. It doesn't take many trees to produce a pretty sizable population of them though, so you will probably still get to see them.

    It's been raining quite a bit recently, and I've seen no signs of the bugs. I think the Metro Detroit area's in the clear.
    image
  • KungFuSquirrelKungFuSquirrel Basher of Muttons Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor Join Date: 2002-01-26 Member: 103Posts: 2,175
    QUOTE (DarkDude @ May 19 2004, 05:41 AM)
    They should start showing up here in Nebraska pretty soon. Here, there are the normal cicadas coming out every 17 years, but we've also got a 5-8 year species it seems, they come out en masse, but the year varies. We've been getting warm temps and plenty of sunshine so conditions are pretty much perfect for the 17 year cicadas, but we'll just have to wait and see as there have been no signs of them yet.

    On another note, do cicadas only show up where trees are? I'm living in a pretty treeless area right now, so I'm not sure whether I'm going to get to see many. If I don't, that would kind of suck, really is a spectacular sight.

    Eep! Nebraskan!

    I remember a few years ago getting swarmed with them during a summer camp I was at... Been quite some time. Probably the 8s or something. Is there a 13 variety, by chance? For some reason that sounds familiar, though it was by no means 13 years ago tounge.gif
  • WheezerWheezer Members, Constellation Join Date: 2002-11-02 Member: 3926Posts: 161
    That's just amazing.
    It's like things I only see on nature shows xD
    It would really be worth a trip to USA to see such things.
    But the little buggers must pop out elsewhere too?
    You really caught the moment in your writing =)
    "I think, therefore I am. I think..." -Nordom
  • RaVeRaVe Members Join Date: 2003-06-20 Member: 17538Posts: 3,515
    LOL they look damn cute when you see them the next day biggrin.gif

    BTW, I'm nowhere in America biggrin.gif

    It's a good thing though, I was always afraid of bugs or buglike creatures.

    QUOTE (BobTheJanitor)
    The armory isn't broken, it's the players that are broken. And if you have a problem with humanity, you'll have to direct your ideas and suggestions to your deity of choice.
  • Hand_Me_The_Gun_And_Ask_Me_AgainHand_Me_The_Gun_And_Ask_Me_Again Members Join Date: 2002-02-07 Member: 178Posts: 267
    Meanwhile, in Britain...

    I was outside in the dark a few minutes ago, and there were some great big beetles buzzing around, aiming for the lights. Cockchafer beetles, apparently (stop s****ing). Quite cute, cuddly, hairy little beasties, but I immediately thought of the swarming American cicadas. Why do you Americans have to outdo us Europeans in everything? smile.gif

    Nice photos, by the way - and I think I'm going to have to come and visit in, ooh, 2021 with my 500-megapixel, coin-sized digital camera.

    British beetles!
    user posted image

    (Nicked from here...)
  • moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
    QUOTE (RaVe @ May 19 2004, 06:31 AM)
    LOL they look damn cute when you see them the next day biggrin.gif

    I'm glad somebody else thinks so. I was beginning to think that my mom and I are the only people who actually find them cute. Everyone else I've showed the pictures too thinks they are pretty disgusting.

    They're like tiny six legged gorge/skulk hybrids that come out of their shells and become gorge/lerk hybrids. biggrin.gif
  • UZiUZi Eight inches of C4 between the legs. Members Join Date: 2003-02-20 Member: 13767Posts: 1,248
    Heres what cha need.

    user posted image
    Tough Guys Post in Pink!
  • ZigZig ...I am Captain Planet! Members Join Date: 2002-10-23 Member: 1576Posts: 5,700 Advanced user
    super fire extinguisher!
  • Dr_ShaggyDr_Shaggy Members, Constellation Join Date: 2002-09-26 Member: 1340Posts: 557
    DDT in the house, don't worry though, its perfectly safe!
  • CommunistWithAGunCommunistWithAGun Local Propaganda Guy Members Join Date: 2003-04-30 Member: 15953Posts: 7,651 Advanced user
    QUOTE (Dr_Shaggy @ May 19 2004, 02:53 PM)
    DDT in the house, don't worry though, its perfectly safe!

    I got have no drain brammage from TDD
    user posted image

    #BATTERY
  • Soylent_greenSoylent_green Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2002-12-20 Member: 11220Posts: 2,874 Advanced user
    17 and 13 are both primes, that certainly is interesting. Is there some periodic occurance that threaten cicadas?

    Lets say something happens every n years, since neither 13 and 17 are evenly divisible with anything but themselves and one that means if n isn't 1 that occurance won't ever coincide with the cicadas arriving 2 times in a row...
Sign In or Register to comment.