"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Tuesday, May 5, 2015



Those of you that have spent very much time in the deep South know we have a plethora of insects.  Flying, crawling, biting; we have them all. During the past few days we have enjoyed the company of a species that shows up only once every 13 years.  The 13 year Cicada has appeared like a plague from the Bible.

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These ugly bugs spend 13 years underground, living on the nutrients they take from the roots of trees and other plants.  In the Spring of their thirteenth year, when the soil temperature reaches a certain point, they emerge by the thousands.  They emerge from the soil and immediately make for any elevated place.  These are crawling up a Sweet Gum tree in our yard.

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Once off the ground, the exoskeleton dries out, splits, and the adult emerges.  This takes place overnight.

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This is what the adult looks like.

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Don’t you love those red eyes?

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Once the adults have shed their shell, they crawl into the tops of the trees and wait for the sun to warm the day.  That’s when the singing begins.  Once the temperature reaches a certain point, It will go from dead silence to a crescendo within minutes, and they will sing all day, hoping to attract a mate.  Imagine millions of them singing this song.  Being surrounded by woods, that’s the sound we hear all day.  It ebbs and flows with the wind, but never stops.

This goes on for a couple of weeks before the males begin to die.  The females deposit their eggs into slits on twigs of living trees, then die themselves.  A short time later the eggs hatch, the nymphs drop to the ground, and burrow in to begin the cycle again.  Hope I’m here to welcome them back in 2028.

Ugly bugs, for sure, but other wildlife loves them.  I think they look at them as the 5 PM buffet..jc


  1. Jerry, that has become one sound I have missed when I moved from KS to NM. In KS, you knew spring was over and summer was here when the "songs" started each year. Must be a different species there, as I don't remember the red eyes. Oh, just read there are over 3,000 species. KS must have the "dog-day" cicadas as they appear mid-summer.

  2. Being a non-bug person, all I can say is YUCK! Do they at least sleep at night?

  3. I had forgotten about those bugs--they do make a lot of noise!! Used to play with those "shells" when we were kids.

  4. We even had them in Chicago when I was a kid. Different kind, though. We called them the 17 year locusts.

  5. I remember our first camping trip in a pop-up with the cicadas in Oklahoma. They sang at night too and it was deafening until you got used to it.

  6. Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods would pay a good chuck of change to buy "bushels" of those from you...roasted over an open fire.... :)) Horst sends

  7. I like their sound, for a little while.

  8. They swarmed here couple years ago. I heard not the least sound, unfortunately. Too deaf. I haven't heard a bird in 35 years. I miss this.


Thanks for looking, and comments are welcome.