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The Cicadas Have Emerged in West Essex

Carolyne Volpe Curley

Saturday, June 1, 2013 • 12:31pm

ESSEX FELLS, NJ - The emergence of the cicadas has begun in Essex Fells according to photos and video provided to West Essex TAP by Corrine Feindt-Summerville of Caldwell. Friday afternoon, as she explored the area over by The Pond, she started taking photos as she saw what definitely appears to be the expected cicadas. Although they may be alarming by their numbers, there is no cause for concern because they do not sting or bite and they aren’t known to transmit disease. If a human or animal goes near them, they will most likely fly away.


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Cicadas have arrived at The Pond in Essex Fells
Credit: Corrine Summerville

"From what a friend told me they are only in the Fells so far and not here near my home in Caldwell yet," Summerville said.

The 2013 Emergence ~ Brood XIV
This particular species of insect, Magicicada periodical cicada, last appeared during 1996, which scientists referred to as the “Brood II periodical cicada emergence.” This year’s insects are primarily expected to be prevalent in the tri-state area as well as the Eastern Seaboard states from Georgia to Maryland. However, according to this online map which is updated daily, they have already made their way to Kentucky and up to Rhode Island.

Appearance
The insects are set apart from other cicadas by their appearance; they have red eyes, orange wings and black bodies. Though they are also referred to as locusts, they are not true locusts which are actually more like grasshoppers.  

"It was very cool and I knew right away they are cicadas, I have seen them before when I was a girl scout leader," Summerville said.


Credit: Corrine Feindt-Summerville

Nymphs and Imagoes 
The youngest cicadas are called “nymphs” and they live underground for seventeen years. In the spring of their seventeenth year, they begin to construct tunnels to be able to exit up to the ground surface. Each hole is about a 1/2 inch wide.

Credit: Corrine Feindt-Summerville

When they are ready to emerge, the nymphs leave their underground tunnels at sunset, locate nearby vegetation and begin to start the molting process towards adulthood. Once they have fully molted, the adult cicadas, called “imagoes,” will appear tannish-white and then their shell will harden and they will darken again.


Credit: Corrine Feindt-Summerville

Feindt-Summerville explained that in the West Essex area, they are just now hatching from the ground up; news reports have suggested the hatching is due to the excessive heat. “I might have to go back for more pictures of them climbing up to the surface. It’s so cool; they climb out backwards and then they get rid of their shell and their wings and it takes some time for them to open up. They open like a balloon, it’s very interesting.”

The entire emergence period--from when the nymphs first come up from the ground until they grow into adults and finally die--is about six weeks long. The decaying cicada bodies around trees effectively supply nitrogen and other nutrients to the roots of the tree.


Credit: Corrine Feindt-Summerville

Young Tree and Shrub Damage
Although they are no danger to humans, the cicadas can harm young trees or shrubs because they may feed from the plant or lay eggs in its branches. An effective way to protect small trees or shrubs is as follows:

  • First use a garden hose to spray all insects off of the tree or shrub
     
  • Nest, cover them with screening material so the insects can’t get through to them. 


Credit: Corrine Feindt-Summerville

Two Reasons Why Dogs Should Not Eat Cicadas 
Dogs seems to enjoy eating copious amounts of cicadas and the insect would be considered nutritious for them; animal protective groups, however, have issued warnings suggesting dogs should not be encouraged to do so:

  • Small pets can choke on the hard wings and body parts
     
  • Most importantly, the cicadas may have been sprayed with pesticide which is poisonous to animals


Credit: Corrine Feindt-Summerville

The Chirping
The chirping sounds cicadas produce are actually the mating songs males use to lure female cicadas. Power tools and lawn mowers apparently create sounds which one cicada mistakes for another cicada; this therefore attracts them to land on the tool. The best time to use these tools are early morning or after dusk when the insects are less active.

The Next Seventeen Years
A female may lay as many as 600 eggs. After ten weeks, the eggs hatch and those new nymphs leave the trees, burrow underground and begin the next seventeen year cycle all over again.

For further information, this website called Cicada Mania has a large amount of facts, multimedia and maps.


Credit: Corrine Feindt-Summerville








  

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