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Cicadas in the USA: Why there are so many this year

Cicadas in the USA: Why there are so many this year

Cicadas in America: LOGO! Explains to children what whining means.

April 19, 2024 | 01:34 minutes

They spend about a month roaming the forests and suburban gardens across the US in a loud, sexually charged manner. These days, countless cicadas crawl out of the ground where they lived as larvae for years.
This year, for the first time since 1803, two events coincide:

  • Those cicadas that appear every 17 years come out of the ground.
  • As well as those with a 13-year rhythm.

There are over 3,000 cicada species worldwide

There are over 3,000 species of cicadas worldwide. They spend most of their lives as larvae in the soil. Only after they are fully grown do they come to the surface of the earth to feed. For many cicada species this occurs annually, for others every 13 or 17 years. Scientists have long been puzzled as to why cicadas emerge in prime numerical intervals, but there is no obvious evolutionary biological explanation for this.

Summer means insect time: but not all uninvited guests in the home and garden are insects to fight off immediately. A pest controller will clarify.

July 4, 2023 | 03:23 min

The so-called Prud XIX has begun to appear in the US states of North Carolina and South Carolina. A deafening shriek comes from several male cicadas ready to join the scene. Here's what the Newberry, South Carolina Sheriff's Office said on Facebook last week:

There have been a few calls about sirens or a screeching or roaring sound in the air.

Newberry Sheriff's Office, South Carolina

Its 17-year rhythm, called Prud XIII, will soon arrive in the US Midwest. In a small area in central Illinois, their migration range may overlap with that of the XIX Prud.

Individual animals are practically defenseless and easy prey

John Lill, a biologist from George Washington University, explains the fact that cicadas appear in large flocks because individual animals are practically defenseless and are easy prey for birds, turtles, raccoons and other predators.

Lill and colleagues recently found that the emergence of Brut X in Washington, D.C., in 2021 led to an increase in insectivorous birds. Because the birds wanted to eat the cicadas that appeared in large numbers, there were more caterpillars. This led to more oak shoots being eaten by the caterpillars.

A study conducted by TU Darmstadt revealed that insects are declining not only in fields but also in forests. Drought in summer may also be a reason for this.

July 10, 2023 | 01:47 minutes

Other new research has found that oak trees produce particularly high numbers of acorns two years after the cicadas migrate. This means that there are many mammals that eat acorns, such as wild boars. It also increases people's risk of developing tick-borne Lyme disease.

This shows that the ecological impact of the appearance of cicadas can last years after they disappear, Lill says.

Cicadas are highly dependent on environmental influences

On the other hand, cicadas are highly dependent on environmental influences. According to Chris Simon, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Connecticut, climate change threatens to disrupt cicadas' internal clocks. He expects that “more 17-year cicadas will permanently become 13-year cicadas.”

Changes in nature by humans sometimes have positive effects on cicadas. Well-lit trees in suburban gardens provide optimal conditions for spawning. When the adults die, the cicada larvae hatch from the eggs, drop from the trees and burrow into the ground, starting the cycle again.

Biomimicry against infections: A cicada wing contact lens

Researchers like to be inspired by nature when developing new technologies. In the fight against infections, sharks and cicadas are examples of antibacterial surfaces.

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