17-year cicadas - Brood VTuesday, May 31, 2016
Pssst. If you're not a fan of bugs, you might want to skip this one. I'd rather you scrolled on by than left a comment saying how "gross" this is! ;)
You guys know I like cicadas, right? I have a giant one tattooed on my leg! This obsession started a few years ago when I found a bunch of them in the quiet little cemetery where I often took outfit photos. Look at this lil baby Kaylah! I was / am just enthralled by what neat critters they are.
It's actually been a few years since I spotted any despite always keeping my eyes peeled. So when the news that the 17-year cicadas would be emerging this year I was stoked! All the news stations around here are covering it, which piqued my interest even more. Of course, there was the chance that the new stations were doing what they do best, exaggerating stories to make them more appealing, but after a little bit of research I figured I better get my butt out there to look or else I'd have to wait another seventeen years for this grand event to happen again!
I wasn't quite sure where to look but randomly happened to check the Cleveland Metroparks website. They had a whole page on cicadas and just my luck, they were hosting a few cicada walks where you could go, meet up with a group, and look for them together. That's not really my style but they did list the locations of where they'd be meeting so I figured that was probably the best place to start looking, right?
I drove to a park a half hour away, and huffed and puffed my way around the trail. I found nothing. Hot, sweaty, and annoyed, I called my mom - "Have you seen any cicadas yet?!" I figured since they live in a heavily wooded area my parents would have spotted some if they were out but there were none there yet either.
I hopped back in my car and decided since I was already out and about I'd see if there were any garden centers near by. Google told me my local favorite garden center chain had a location about ten minutes away so I started to head that direction. On my way there I happened upon a cemetery. It looked sufficiently old and I thought if I couldn't shoot what I came out to shoot I could at least take some photos of a new cemetery. I pulled in and immediately noticed something on the tree. I let out a victorious "hell yeah!", threw my car in park, grabbed my camera bag, and darted over to the tree. Cicadas everywhere. The tree was covered. They were on headstones. You could barely walk without stepping on them.
It's so incredible to me that these little guys hang out underground for 17 years then when the conditions are right (ground temperatures have reached 64 degrees Fahrenheit) they emerge to molt. Nature is too cool!
Something you may notice from these photos is that a lot of the cicadas had shriveled up wings. If they aren't able hang downward after emerging they won't form properly. There are a couple photos in this post, third from top, and second from bottom, that show how the wings are crinkled when they first emerge. This can also be caused by cicadas trampling each other. You can see in the photo above there one decided that directly on top of another was a good place to molt. It seemed like the majority of the adults who had finished drying after molting and stuck around had damaged wings. Judging by the number of abandoned exoskeletons laying around quite a few had already left the immediate area and presumably had fully formed wings.
Super awesome, right?! I'm really stoked about my photos but a little disappointed I didn't think to take a couple shots that show the just how many there were. I mainly shot individuals as opposed to the whole scene. Hopefully this won't be the last big group of them I see this year though. I'm planning out going out to look for them in a few other areas where and I've got my fingers crossed!
If you're interested in reading more about these guys, Cicada Mania is a great resource! There is a ton of information. If you're curious when the periodical cicadas will be emerging in your area, this site has an easy to read chart.
Weird fact : I've only found cicadas in cemeteries. I've literally never seen a single outside of a cemetery. I tried to research this and see if I could find any information on why this might be but I came up empty handed. Is it the kind of tree which happens to be popular in cemeteries? Softer ground? They're actually performing witchcraft underground for seventeen years?! I have no idea but it's pretty interesting.