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Mon April 29, 2013
Cicadas: Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood
The Triad is about to get a whole group of noisy visitors. Millions of them in fact, as the 17-year Cicadas emerge from the ground looking for love, and the Cicada circle of life continues.
This particular group, or 'brood,' as they're called, is Brood II. There are broods of 17-year, 13-year, and even one year cicadas emerging in different places at different times. The last time these noisy insects were above ground, Bill Clinton was president. Dr. Bill Conner, an Entomologist in the Wake Forest University Biology Department, told WFDD News what they do down there all that time.
“They're eating underground," he explained, "From roots of different plants. And they're very, very slow-growing. So what's going to happen, when the soil temperature hits 64 degrees, the nymphs are going to make emergence holes in the soil, and they'll crawl up the base of a tree, and then they'll molt into their adult stage.”
And as adults, for the following 2 or 3 weeks, they'll be pretty much everywhere. Individually, they'll only be above ground for a few days, but they don't all come out at once. And the Triad will be hosting a particularly large group of them. Dr. Conner says they're fairly good-sized insects, about the size of your pinky finger.
“It's a gorgeous insect, actually," he said admiringly. "It's golden, its wings are golden, it has red eyes, it's roughly an inch and a half long. If you've ever picked up one, you'll know it has a defensive sound that it makes, and you'll drop it for sure.”
Gorgeous may be in the eye of the beholder. But luckily, they don't bite, and they don't sting. They cause just a small amount of damage though. They create small slits in the ends of branches and twigs on young trees, and lay eggs in them. The tips of some of those branches may die. And they do make noise. A lot of noise. After a few weeks, though, they'll finish what they're doing, go back underground, and won't be back until 2030.