5/28/2007

Cicadas gradually invading the heartland...






A couple months ago I wrote several articles about the growing uncertainty in the scientific community about the causes and implications of the recent disappearance of large percentages of honey bee populations all around the United States. Several interesting and frightening theories have been posed to explain what may be happening to the bees, but it will take some time to weigh the consequences and the story has lost traction as of late. That is not to say it has diminished in importance, but I have another creepy insect on my mind this summer, the "Magicadas".

I am not sure if it was my brief fascination with this unexplained phenomenon that aroused my interests in the rare appearance of the red-eyed cicadas in my suburban Chicago hometown, or if it was my distant memories of my only previous encounter with the noisy and overwhelming bugs that eerily emerge every 17 years after developing underground slowly. Whatever the inspiration, I have been impatiently counting the hours until I could hear the immutable buzz of the cicada cry drowning the typical silence of suburban nights.

The first predictions all pointed to the May 22nd as the day to expect the grubs to emerge fully transformed into the biblical plague which they embody. Yet that date has come and gone, and still there are absolutely no signs whatsoever of the bugs except for rumors passed between locals. I remember so vividly the otherworldly roar that usually consumes the entire region when the locusts emerge, but as of yet nothing but silence has been heard in my neighborhood. I have heard recently that there is supposed to be one million per acre, and I assumed that because my house is located on the edge of a large forest preserve, that the Shore Grove would be littered with creepy crawlers.

What could be the problem? As far as I know, it is not typical for the predictions to be this far off, since it is not especially difficult to dig down a few inches to examine the developmental progress of the larve and make an estimation.

I have done some research and I guess it is still too early to reach any conclusions about what may be causing the delayed emergence of the cicadas, but I have encountered tons of fascinating information as I have searched for answers and I have accumulated photos and information below for those of you interested in learning more so you can amaze your friends with your knowledge about the bugs everyone will be talking about this summer.

Linky Goodness

View selected photos I have accumulated on Google Notebook.

Chicago Tribune Google Maps Mashup for reporting cicada sightings in the greater Chicagoland area, so far 1460 sightings and counting.

National Geographic article with basic information for understanding the life-cycle of the 17 year Magicadas.

Selected resources from the Library of Congress.

Get into the spirit of the season with Cicada apparel, including t-shirts, baby bibs, hats and more...

Cicada Mania page with all the information anyone could possibly hope for, enjoy...

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