The cicada emergence continues

I don't like to do too many posts of the same type too close together. I like to mix things up a bit so you're not reading about bamboo every day, or seeing endless posts about weeding or whatever. Even so, sometimes circumstances dictate that I need to focus on a single topic more often -- like right now with the 13-year periodic cicadas emerging in St. Louis.

When I wrote the other day that they "emerged today", I should have said they "started emerging today", as it's not a one-day thing. That was Thursday, so today is day 4 of the onslaught, and I'm not sure how much longer it will go.


Things are getting a little crowded -- there are empty shells everywhere, and although the birds are feasting (those that can and do eat larger insects at least), there are still cicadas all over the place. Since it happens so rarely, it's a bit exciting and can't be ignored.

Some cicadas have plenty of room:

Others find it a bit more crowded:

It still amazes me how many of these moultings (if that's the right word) go wrong. After 13 years of development to have problems at this last stage just doesn't seem fair:

Some of the plants are just thick with them. Luckily the shells weigh almost nothing, and that all of them don't emerge at once. If they did, some plants would be crushed I'm sure.

There are a lot more shells up above now:

And the ground is littered with empty shells, those that didn't moult successfully, and some that did but are now crawling toward the tree:

I really don't want to mow the lawn while they're still emerging, but it's getting so long now I may have to:

They just want to get off the ground, as they need to be vertical in order to moult correctly. Trees are great, but anything that they can climb will do:

The cicadas appreciate my newly-planted bamboo too!

I wonder if any animals will eat the empty shells? I wonder if they have any nutritional value?

Now that some of the earliest emergent cicadas are flying, things are getting interesting. I was standing around talking to neighbors yesterday, and cicadas landed on each of us more than once. Some people enjoy this much less than others. One just missed my mouth as I was talking, and hit me in the chin before landing on my chest.

Although they're edible and lots of different recipes exist for cooking cicadas in almost any way imaginable (cookies, anyone?), I'm not keen on trying them, especially when in the middle of a sentence.

A few of them are starting to make little experimental noises too. It's going to get fun here soon!


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Sheila  – (May 23, 2011 at 8:02 AM)  

Fascinating post and photos! We can hear them getting closer in central NC but I haven't seen any in my garden yet. One question: Do they seem to be damaging any of your plants?

Alan  – (May 23, 2011 at 8:58 AM)  

No. Only when they start laying eggs will there be any damage. They adults don't eat (I think), but they make slits in the bark of young branches to lay eggs. With so many cicadas to lay the eggs, the slits add up and can cause injury to small trees and shrubs. It's usually not a problem though.

cathysue  – (May 23, 2011 at 10:45 AM)  

Most people are aggravated by them, i think they're amazing little things. I don't think i would try any recipes with them either but we are going to use them as bait when fishing this memorial day weekend.

Elegans  – (May 23, 2011 at 3:04 PM)  

OMG! I've grown up with these insects in Texas, but never have I seen such a sight! And it's more likely that I would hear them than even see very many! That's amazing, but I'm not sure I would want all that cicada activity in my yard. I would hate to accidentally step on one, ewww...

Curbstone Valley Farm  – (May 23, 2011 at 8:34 PM)  

I've never witnessed a spectacle like this with Cicadas in person, but they are fascinating creatures. We have a few species here, but honestly I have yet to see one in the flesh. We do hear them, but can't see them for the trees here. I have some photos of an occasional moulted skin attached to a shrub, but nothing like the hoards of them there. That wall is amazing!

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