The Earth Will Eat Dead Cicadas


Just as an unexpected free dinner will distract you from the leftovers sitting in your fridge, the emergence of cicadas this summer will turn predators away from their favorite animals. At the time of 2021 Brood X outZoe Getman-Pickering, a scientist in Lill’s research team, found out the birds ran over the cicadas, the number of caterpillars increased. Unlike the birds, the caterpillars pushed twice as many leaves on the oak leaves—and the results continued. Scientists cannot count them all. Louie Yang, a biologist and professor of entomology at UC Davis, says: “The environment starts to accelerate, because of these unexpected disruptions that change many things at once.

From birth to death, this insect creates a forest around it. As temperatures rise toward the end of April, the pale, red-eyed cicadas begin burrowing underground, preparing for their grand May entrance. All these tunnels make it easy for rainwater to pass through the soil, where it can be used by plants and insects that live in the soil. When they are fully grown and above ground, large cicadas shed their exoskeletons, release their wings, and fly away to spend the remaining four to six weeks on earth singing (if they are males), listening to highly sexual music (if they are females), and arguing. .

Lady cicadas use it additional metals saws built into their bellies – wooden drills made of materials such as aluminum, copper, and iron – to cut sacs in the branches of trees, in which they lay about 500 eggs each. In some cases, all these wounds cause the branches to wither or be cut off, killing the leaves. Although this can damage a very young shoot, mature trees simply remove the cut branches and continue. “It’s like natural pruning,” says Kritsky, who helps keep hardwoods strong, protects against disease, and promotes flower growth.

After the breeding season ends, the cicada’s lifespan also decreases. “At the end of summer, everyone forgets about cicadas,” says Lill. “They all die. Everything rots on the ground. And then they’re gone.” By the end of June, there will be millions of pounds of cicadas piled up at the base of the trees, rotting away. The smell, says Kritsky, “is an emotional memory you’ll never forget—like Limburger cheese.”

But these stinking corpses send plenty of food to scavengers. “Cicadas act as food banks,” says Yang. “When they emerge, they release all this stored energy into nature,” returning their bodies to the plants that nurtured them. In the short term, dead cicadas contain fertilizer, feeding insects in the soil and help plants grow bigger. And when its remains enter forest ponds and rivers, cicada food is taken downstream, where it can be. to promote marine life far beyond their native tree.

They may smell like bad hamburgers, but Yang says that if you’re lucky enough to get a tree full of cicadas this year, it’s best to just let their bodies rot naturally. He said: “They will soon leave.” If the pile is too heavy, just sweep them away and let nature do the rest.

The concept of billions of insects toscreeching Your behind may make your skin crawl, but you don’t have to be passive when it comes to it. Researchers are urging their citizen scientists to send in photos of their native cicadas to help create the upcoming photo. The Cicada Safari The app, created by Kritsky, received and verified 561,000 cicada images by the time Brood X came out in 2021 – they hope to find even more this time.

Lill says: “This is an amazing natural phenomenon, not something to be afraid of.”


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