A 17-Year-Old Cicada, or Magicicada: 100% Continual Source of Biological Puzzlement

Do you know that cicadas are quite spectacular insects with dramatic appearances?

17 year cicada


In fact, they have been making up an amazing group of creatures since their discovery about 300 years ago.

But the biggest puzzle to biologists is the significance of cicadas extended life cycles.

Either a 13-year-old cicada or a 17-year-old cicada is without any parallel in the nature.

Both of them are called so due to the incredible capability: they merge by million noisy adults within a few hours after their silent staying underground during 13 or 17 years! No comments, indeed.


Periodical Cicadas: 4 Fascinating Aspects

1. Periodical cicadas are native and the longest-lived North American species. No other insect here generates so much interest. They do not occur anywhere else in the world!

2. The term 'a periodical cicada' commonly refers to as 'a 17-year-old locust'. There is even a biblical story of awful locust plagues both in Egypt and Palestine. The periodic appearance of locusts was considered evil significance. That is why modern cicadas are called locusts.

3. There exist 6 species of periodical cicadas: with a 17-year cycle (3) and with a 13-year cycle (3). But all those three species of each life-cycle group differ in size, color, and sound. The 17-year-old cicadas tend to locate in the North, while the 13-year-old ones - in the South. Nevertheless, both types may emerge in the same forest.

4. For the sake of reference convenience, each brood is marked by a Roman numeral. Thus, I-XVII refer to the 17-year-old broods, but XVIII-XXX - to the 13-year-old broods. Brood I started in 1893. Consequently, there are 13 broods of a 17-year-old cicada and 5 broods of a 13-year-old cicada.


A 17-Year-Old Cicada, or Magicicada: Description & Life History

  • The adults are one & one-half inches long. They have reddish orange eyes and wing veins. As for the size, 17-year-old cicadas are smaller than the dog-day cicadas, their cousins.
  • Mature nymphs of periodical cicadas begin burrowing upward after 17 years of soil living on the depth of 2-24 inches. This is April, when they actually stop and wait for the proper emerging time. Their muscle structure undergoes major changes at this time.
  • At last, nymphs exit from the ground and crawl up weeds, tree trunks, or other upright objects. Now adults emerge by leaving behind their nymphal skins within an hour. The newcomers look now soft and white. But their exoskeletons either harden or become darker.
  • Though the insects can hardly fly, the males start their singing, opposite to silent females. And this happens rather soon after emerging.
  • Within 10 days, the female cicadas will mate and deposit 400-600 eggs on the branches of 80 (!) different species of trees & woody shrubs. However, no eggs are laid in coniferous trees. Interestingly, but cicadas deposit them in self-made wood pockets!
  • Adult insects live for 3-4 weeks above ground and then drop by the beginning of July. This is high time they sucked the plant root fluid for the next 17 years


Yea amazing, 17-year cicada!

Ξ 48 Photos of the "17 Year Cicada"

13 And 17 Year Cicadas 17 Year Cicada 2014 17 Year Cicada Map 17 Year Cicada Brood II 17 Year Cicada Bug 17 Year Cicada Bugs 17 Year Cicada Hatch 17 Year Cycle Cicada Cicadas 17 Year 17 Year Cicada Area Cicada Why 17 Years 17 Year Cicada Photo Gallery Cicadas Every 17 Years 17 Year Cicada Swarm 17 Years Cicada Green Cicada Cicadas 17 Years Virginia 17 Year Cicada Larvae 17 Year Cicada Photos 17 Year Cicada Evolution Cicada Underground 17 Years 13 Year Cicada Cicada Insect 17 Years Cicada Every 17 Years

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