Saturday, June 18, 2011

13-year Cicadas

Upon returning from our vacation to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, we were welcomed home by the droning trill of thousands of cicadas. 2011 is the emergence year for so-called Brood XIX, the Great Southern Brood of periodical cicadas. One species of Magicicada, these cicadas (not locusts, that's a whole different order) live underground for 13 years, feeding on the sap of friendly tree roots. By some unknown signal, they then all emerge in May and June to quickly fly around, eat, mate, and lay eggs in a matter of 5-6 weeks. A strange life cycle, to be sure, but apparently a successful one. 13- and 17-year periodical cicadas are found only in the eastern U.S. and nowhere else in the world.

I am incapable of picking out to which of the 3 (or four?) species that these Habitat Home cicadas belong. Apparently, one species differentiator is the song, sung only by the males. So I have included here an audio recording for those who might care (see link below). This recording includes an obvious bird in the background, but both the chirps and the drone are from these cicadas, mostly in the crab apple tree where these photos were taken.

For more information, see: