Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | May 21, 2013

Brood II Cicadas – what’s happening in New Jersey

You’ve probably heard about the cicadas taking over New Jersey and other parts of the country. It’s part of the 17 year cycle. I read all about their lifecycle on Wikipedia.

Last week we spotted the first few nymphs emerging from the ground. A block away there were reports of massive molting, and a few started appearing on our block. For us, the change was last night/this morning. On the walk to school there was a definite change. You have to look down if you want to avoid stepping on them. They were littering our front walk way. I’ve heard this will get much worse. They aren’t making noise yet and the ground isn’t undulating with the creatures.

The nymph shell.

The empty nymph shell

Apparently these are called nymph shells. After the bug crawls out of the earth (almost a foot down), they shed their skins and become adults. You can see those skins everywhere, from the ground to the grass, to tree trunks and telephone poles to tires.

The adults mate and head to the trees (see photos below of them in the trees). The female lays hundreds of eggs in slits she makes in the bark/branches. The things that come out of those hatched eggs drop to the ground and burrow down.  Then they emerge in 17 years when the ground temperature is 64. They live off tree root juice. These bugs are disgusting, but amazing.

Dori begins her collection. This is day 1.

Dori begins her collection. This is day 1.

This is day 3, and she began raiding the neighbors' yards.

This is day 3, and she began raiding the neighbors’ yards.

Lots of people eat cicadas. The Washington Post did a taste test. They taste like asparagus or shrimp. Not that I tried it (nor will I). Estimates are a million of cicadas per acre. That’s a lot of cicada shells and carcases, after they shed, mate and die. Cure world hunger! Eat our cicadas!

Dori captured one that was newly hatched, and within about 3 hours, the pale yellow cicada transformed into this ugly thing. Fortunately I forbid her from bringing it in the house.

Dori captured one that was newly hatched, and within about 3 hours, the pale yellow cicada transformed into this ugly thing. Fortunately I forbid her from bringing it in the house.

Newly hatched and still hanging onto its shell.

Newly hatched and still hanging onto its shell.

They're really ugly.

Adults: they’re really ugly.

This is one of my favorite pictures.

This is one of my favorite pictures.

Look what's riding on our tires.

Look what’s riding on our tires.

Our neighbor wants Dori to come back and clean off her tree.

Our neighbor wants Dori to come back and clean off her tree.

IMG_5227

If you look up into the trees, you’ll see them. Just keep your mouth closed. These are the live ones.

They're on the bushes too.

They’re on the bushes too.

P.S. This post is dedicated to my sister.


Responses

  1. Wow, I have yet to see one!

  2. That is just crazy! We have none here yet but I feel more prepared now…

  3. […] out this is the cicada’s doing. As mentioned previously, the cicada adults mate and climb trees to lay their eggs. they dig channels in the branch and lay […]


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