Trillions of cicadas prepare to invade the United States, a rare event every 200 years - BBC News Indonesia (2024)

Trillions of cicadas prepare to invade the United States, a rare event every 200 years - BBC News Indonesia (1)

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  • Writer,Lucy Sherriff
  • role,BBC Future

The last time something like this happened was when Prince Diponegoro was 8 years old, and Thomas Jefferson was still President of the United States. This incident will be very deafening.

Trillions of 'periodic cicadas' will appear across the Midwest and Southeast America this spring.

They will emerge after hiding underground for more than a decade.

This year, two types of flying cicadas will appear at the same time. This will be the first time they appear together after the last time it happened in 1803.

Periodic cicadas have a very long life cycle, unlike non-periodic types of cicadas which mature every summer.

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After hatching, the periodical tonggeret that is not yet mature, is callednymph, spend 13 or 17 years underground, feeding on roots, before wriggling above ground and turning into adult katydids.

The 17-year-old Brood XIII cicada species will appear in Northern Illinois, and the 13-year-old Brood

Both events will begin at the end of April. In some places, there are small areas where the occurrence of the two potentially overlaps.

According to researchers at the University of Connecticut, the greatest likelihood of contact between the two groups would have occurred in a small wooded area around Springfield, Illinois.

“This is not an uncommon occurrence,” said Gene Kritsky, a katydid expert and professor emeritus of biology at Mount St. Joseph University in Ohio.

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Kritsky's passion for these insects began 50 years ago when he first learned about periodic katydids, and realized that there was much that could be uncovered by using historical data to create maps of their distribution patterns.

Kritsky describes himself as a "frustrated historian who is also an entomologist".

And it's not just Kritsky who is fascinated by these musical insects, which belong to the bedbug family, and have species names ranging from "common cactus dodger" and "scissor grinder" to "masked devil" and "whiskey drinker."

Kritsky inspired other Americans to document cicadas – half a million videos and photos were uploaded to Kritsky's science app,Cicada Safari,which he launched in 2019.

A wide variety of Magicicada species have gained a "worldwide following", observed a paper on the ecology of periodical cicadas, due to their "theatrical" occurrence in very large numbers.

However, not everyone likes katydids.

A group of US citizens wearing anti-cicada suits. They even plan long journeys to avoid the trillions of insects that suddenly arrive at once.

The appearance of katydids also has the potential to create problems because householders have to clean up the small carcasses that have accumulated around the house, while their rotting little bodies give off quite a strong odor.

However, katydids do not bite, sting or carry disease, and cannot be controlled effectively with pesticides.

With all the insects appearing at once, the sound can also be very loud – very, very loud.

Male katydids produce their characteristic clicking sound by vibrating an organ near the base of their wings called the tympanic membrane.

Female katydids also make similar, quieter sounds with their wings.

The cicadas from Brood

The cicadas emit a cacophony of otherworldly sounds, including high-pitched screeches, taps, and buzzes, which combine to produce the chorus of sounds we hear.

Interesting displays seem to occur when different species overlap.

Brood XIX, which in the US is also known as the "Great Southern Brood", actually consists of several different species of cicadas, one of which is calledMagicicada neotredecim.

Generally different species within a group occur in different areas, but sometimes they occur together in "contact zones".

Trillions of cicadas prepare to invade the United States, a rare event every 200 years - BBC News Indonesia (3)

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MaleMagicicada neotredecimwere found to subtly lower their call frequency when encountering another Brood XIX species known asMagicicada thirteen.

However, to the untrained eye, it is almost impossible to tell the difference. One has a mostly orange belly and the other has a black and orange belly. DNA analysis is the only sure way to differentiate one from the other.

Across the US, there are 12 groups of 17-year katydids, and three groups of 13-year cicadas.

Groups that have the same year of emergence are called broods and are labeled with Roman numerals.Broodsis a complex group of different species that appeared in different regions at the same time.

However, why they become synchronized in this way is still a matter of great scientific debate.

Some people believe that this may be due to “climate shocks” – sudden and extreme changes in weather – which can cause some groups to move out of their habitats and schedules and create new groups.

Signs of the appearance of tongeret soon is when the soil is filled with holes as big as the fingertip.

There could be multiple simultaneous occurrences over a 221-year period, and this year's double occurrence is the fifth since 2000. It's the combination of groups that makes it a rare event.

“The Northern Illinois brood is reported to be a fairly dense group,” said Mike Raupp, professor emeritus in the University of Maryland's entomology department.

“And the Great Southern brood is very widespread and reaches high densities in many locations. So, in the overlapping areas of Illinois, the density can be very large."

Although they can harm young trees when females lay their eggs in newly growing trees, they are beneficial to the ecology of the region.

They provide a food source – and in this case, a plentiful feast – for predators.

“Birds and small mammals will feast, resulting in increased reproduction and survival of their offspring,” Raupp said. “From an evolutionary perspective, this could be very interesting.”

There are more than 3,390 species of woodpeckers worldwide, but only seven in North America are known to be periodic.

The rest appear every year. Although they are classified as different species, many species of periodical cicadas are capable of interbreeding and producing hybrids.

This means that if the different groups met this year, the three Brood XIII katydid species would have the opportunity to interbreed with the four Brood “The result is a hybrid and only the cicadas and nature know what the outcome will be,” he said.

When periodic beetles appear, they bring great benefits to the environment where they live.

The nymphs aerate the soil as they tunnel to the surface, increasing water infiltration into the soil and encouraging root growth. When they die and decompose, they add nutrients to the soil.

But like most other creatures, cicadas' behavior also changes. They appear earlier in the spring than they did a century ago, Kristky said. “And there are more chicks appearing four years ahead of schedule.”

Forest destruction also threatens the population – in 1954 the entire Brood XI became extinct due to forest clearing for agriculture and urbanization.

What interests entomologists like Raupp and Kritsky is the mystery of the insects and the fact that nature puts on a show.

“There might be more noise, more fear of entomophobia, but there will be more fun for insect enthusiasts like me,” Raupp said.

"And yeah, it's a really cool and exciting event that doesn't happen anywhere else in the world."

The next time Broods XIX and XII appear together will be 2245. The question is: what kind of world will they lead to?


You can read the original version of this article with the titleWhat to expect from this year's rare double brood of cicadason BBC Future.

Trillions of cicadas prepare to invade the United States, a rare event every 200 years - BBC News Indonesia (2024)


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