The Cicadas Are Coming

The year was 1990. It was the last time that the cicadas were heard from. Fast forward to 2007. They return this summer throughout the Midwest. Their 17 year rest is over.

Cicadas are not harmful to humans. However, they can be very annoying. The noise from a group of cicadas can drown out a cellphone ring, radio, lawn mower, and even power tools. They are very clumsy as they fly about from place to place. You might call them the Rip Van Winkle of the insect family.

Billions of them will emerge this month from their 17 year sleep across northern Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Indiana. Cicadas will emerge to live about 30 days. Their main purpose is to mate. They are red eyed and shrimp size insects with large wings. To little children, they can be scary looking monsters. Birds, squirrels, and especially dogs love to eat them. They are very high in protein.

The most recent emergence was in 2004 in the eastern part of the United States. The Brood X emerged after a 17 year leave of absence. As nymphs, they quickly burrow into the ground. There they live off of tree sap from the tree roots. A group of them is called the brood. They burst from the ground within a few days of each other. They then climb the nearest vertical post usually a tree or fence post. There they molt and unwrap their wings. This is a slow but gradual process. In some wooded areas, there could be as many 1.5 million per acre.

The sound from a single males courtship is a loud shrill. If you have an outdoor even planned when they come out of the ground, it is best to move inside. Although they won’t harm you, they can create quite a problem for your activity. They usually emerge when the temperature is around 64 to 65 degrees. Some scientists believe that they will emerge between May 29th and June 1.

The best place to observe this natural emergence would be in local parks or forests. This is where the soil hasn’t been disturbed for the past 17 years.

In 1990 a company that makes ice swans for various weddings and parties, were amazed when after they had set the sculpture down how fast the cicadas were attracted to the ice. The coolness and moisture was like a magnet attracting them so fast. The sculpture looked like it was alive. Many organizations and outdoor activities have to be canceled or moved inside. Concerts are especially affected because of the noise of the cicadas.

The LTHForum, a web site for culinary experiences based in Chicago, wants to see what the cicadas would taste like. They are currently working on a plan to develop a recipe to include cicadas. You can find this group at . Maybe they might have a plan to add to your outdoor picnics during the early part of the summer.

The good thing about cicadas though is that they won’t be around very long. They can create a mess as they shed their skin or shell. These usually remain hanging on the tress or posts. Just as fast as they come, they disappear. That is until the next 17 year wait is over.

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