Why Worry About Cicadas?
research team at the University of South Carolina is interested in understanding how past land use is affecting this year's emergence. This effort requires the help of citizen scientists to help us keep track of when and where emergences are taking place around the state. This emergence will be very important to South Carolinians because of its significant increase in productivity. Various birds, mammals, reptiles and arthropods feed on the adult cicadas and studies have shown increased fledgling number and size amongst birds during emergence years. Also, trees are affected by this emergence as there is potential damage to branches due to the female's egg laying behavior and increased risk of pathogen infection.
When Will You See Cicadas?
ugs! Watch out! Coming this spring for the first time in 13 years, insects known as cicadas are due to emerge from the ground and swarm in counties including Abbeville, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda. The first signs will be small holes appearing in the ground in yards and fields, especially in wooded areas. Then one warm evening, black, red-eyed insects will emerge from the ground and climb up onto trees or shrubs where they molt into their adult form. Starting as early as April, their loud, alien-like screeches will fill the air.
What Are Cicadas?
icadas (genus Magicicada), only live in the Southeastern part of the United States and appear once every 13 years. Because their emergence recurs at regular intervals, they are called periodical cicadas. A related periodical cicada only appears once every 17 years and is found primarily in the Northeastern part of the USA. Their time above ground is relatively short, only lasting 4-6 weeks, during which individuals mate, lay eggs and die, thus starting the prime number life cycle anew. Why periodical cicadas wait so long below ground and only emerge after a particular number of years is a mystery for scientists and mathematicians. Many suggest that unpredictable weather patterns may have forced cicadas to stay underground longer to reduce their chances of emerging during a particularly cold summer.
Should You Fear Cicadas?
o not worry! Cicadas do not sting or bit. In fact, because they emerge in large numbers, they have little to no predator defense because the likelihood of an individual being eaten by predators is reduced in large swarms. It's the old 'Safety in Numbers' defense strategy! So chances are you'll be able to get very close to these insects!