Ana C. Day
onto Entomophagy: Edible Insects and the Future of Food
Cicadas will emerge this year and they could be making a racket soon in your neighborhood.
The noisy, flying insects, which surface periodically along the East Coast, are due for a 17-year appearance in parts of Northeastern Pennsylvania, according to Penn State Cooperative Extension.
"We will only know when they start to emerge how big the population will be," said Vincent Catrone, a forester at the extension office in West Pittston. "These are typical emergences. There will be pockets of them."
Concentrations are expected to surface in 17 counties, according to Penn State, including Luzerne, Carbon and Schuylkill.
After soil temperatures reach 64 degrees, cicadas usually emerge from May to July. Cicada nymphs burrow up from the earth, where they feed on plant root fluids, before shedding an exoskeleton and transforming to winged, 1.5-inch adults.
They do not sting, bite or harm crops or most trees.
But they are loud, clumsy and creepy.
"Anybody who hates insects will be freaked out because they are so big," Catrone said.
"People get the heebie-jeebies," added Daniel Townsend, Ph.D., a University of Scranton biology professor. "If you get a swarm, it's like the Alfred Hitchcock phenomenon."
Amorous male cicadas emit an ear-splitting clicking noise, which is a mating call.
For humans, it's a nuisance.
"Their decibel level can get pretty high," Catrone said.
"The sound is an amazing one," Townsend said. "If you get very many of them in one spot, it can be hard to carry on a conversation."
Cicadas provide a prime source of protein for many creatures, including birds, fish and some mammals.
"If you are a bird, it's a food fest," Catrone said.
When they take to the air, though, cicadas are among the klutzes of the insect world.
"They are not real adept at flight," said Greg Hoover, an entomologist at Penn State Extension.
Catrone said cicadas "bounce into houses, cars and people," but do no harm.
Detractors can take comfort in cicadas' short life span. They die off within weeks after reproducing and are not expected to re-emerge in the state until 2016.
Pennsylvania has eight broods of 17-year cicadas, said Hoover. Brood II cicadas will surface in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and parts of New York, Virginia and North Carolina this season.
"It's the longest-lived insect in North America," he said.
Way too long, for people with a fear of insects.