Enjoying the Outbreak ( An Episode of Cicada Fever)
Two weeks ago, when I first visited, I had collected cicada larvae so that I could watch their metamorphosis up close. When I checked on my larvae after dinner I found my cicadas had started their metamorphosis without me. They had popped out of their shells and were arched backwards. They now had shriveled wings which were slowly straightening out as I watched. I had done little research before kidnapping the cicada larvae, so seeing the cicada’s exoskeleton a vibrant yellow was a happy surprise.
When I checked on my cicada again in the morning my cicadas were fully developed and their exoskeleton was back to a subtle black. I then let them go, only to see a bird swoop in for a meal as they attempted to fly off.
The next time I went to Sunset Park my goal was to find a mating pair. When I had first visited Sunset Park it had been the beginning of the emergence, with only a dozen or so empty shells on the ground. Only a few cicadas were resting on the trees. This time every step I took there had to be thousands of shells beneath me. The tree trunks were now covered in cicadas who’s wings had not developed and were unable to fly. Flying cicadas kept on crashing into me on their way to a new perch. But the biggest difference was the sound. When I had first visited their had been no sound. Now It was as if the sound was coming from everywhere at once.
Once I got used to the noise I began examining the cicadas on the branches of a smaller tree because I had heard adults like to be on bright branches. I finally found a pair attached, back to back. I slowly urged the couple on to my hand and then took them back home. My unrealistic goal, was that once they finished mating, the female would lay eggs on one of the branches I had put in their cage, and I would get to experience their 17 year development first hand. I could have a pet that lived for 17 years. How many people can say that about their pet cat or dog?
Of course, after they finished mating my cicada couple did not produce any eggs, they just died. I decided from there on I would not take anymore cicadas home. I would just listen.
I am so happy that I got the chance to appreciate the Cicada Brood II phenomena. I have been a self crowned entomologist since I was little (I also have taken courses in IPM and Medical Entomology but do not have an official degree in the field) and getting to experience Brood II first-hand is my idea of winning the lottery.
I have documented my experience so far with Brood II and I hope it brings as much pleasure to you as it has for me.