Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Magicicada septendecim’

The newspapers in our area are full of apocalyptic stories about Brood X periodical cicadas (Magicicada septendecim) that are starting to emerge in my neighborhood and in other parts of the United States after a seventeen-year stint underground. I have not seen many live cicadas, but there are dozens of discarded exoskeletons on my backyard fence and in my front yard tree, a few of which you can see in the second and third photos. I am not paranoid, but it does feel like they are surrounding me.

On Tuesday I photographed one cicada that was in the process of emerging. If you look closely at the first photo you will note that the cicada’s wings are not yet fully formed. They will eventually lengthen and become transparent. So far the cicadas have remained silent, but before long I expect to hear their deafening chorus, as the males compete to attract females by belting out their mating calls.

Yesterday the Washington Post had a story with the sensationalist title A fungus could turn some cicadas into sex-crazed ‘salt shakers of death.’  According to the authors of this article, “Yellow-white fungus grows inside the cicadas, filling their insides and pushing out against their abdomens. One by one, the rings that compose the back halves of their bodies slough off and fall to the ground. Driven by a chemical compound in the fungus — and now lacking butts and genitals — the bugs try to mate like crazy. Some researchers call these infected cicadas “flying salt shakers of death.” And they’re lurking among Brood X.” There is even a warning in the article, “Despite the amphetamine’s ability to control cicadas, no one should expect to feel a high from eating a fungus-infected insect.”

Yes, things are a little crazy here as we await the full-scale onslaught of the cicadas. I will try do an update posting in the upcoming weeks with more photos of these brooding, red-eyed insect invaders.

 

cicada

cicada

cicada

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

After spending most of their lives underground as nymphs, the 17 year cicadas (Magicicada septendecim) spend the few weeks of their adult lives looking for love. The males are very loud in their “singing” as they seek to attract females. I watched one cicada couple go through a very brief introduction and courtship phase and then suddenly they were mating.

I guess that you have to move quickly when your days are numbered.

love1_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

What do you get when you place two six year old boys in an outdoor environment filled with cicadas? You get a whole lot of energy and excitement. One of the boys came running up to me with a cicada perched on his fingertip and almost desperately asked me to take his picture. How could I refuse a request like that?

I decided that the best backdrop for the cicada was the colorful t-shirt that he was wearing. I am not sure exactly what was displayed on the shirt, but it seemed to be some sort of monsters and superheroes, which somehow seemed to be appropriate.  Be sure to click on the photo to get a higher resolution of the cicada, which is a really cool-looking insect (in a slightly creepy way).

boy_cicada_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

Like Paul Revere’s call in 1775, the cry went out in early May, “The cicadas are coming, the cicadas are coming.” After 17 years in the ground, the cicadas of Brood II  (Magicicada septendecim) were coming back in force. The Washington Post ran a story with the sensationalist headline of Bug-phobic dread the looming swarm of Brood II cicadas” and hysteric anticipation gripped the metro D.C. area.

Like most of the snowstorms forecast in this area, the invasion of the cicadas has been underwhelming. I had not seen a single cicada until I traveled to Manssas, VA for a cookout and the got to see and hear a large number of these scarey-looking insects. Apparently we are past the peak moments, but the noise in some places was just short of deafening and there were some bushes that were covered with the giant insects.

I was struck by the contrast between the fierce look of this cicada and the delicate beauty of the purple iris on which he was perched.

beast1_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: