Posted by: coastlinesproject | May 7, 2013

NE locusts return after 17 years!

Cicadas return to Northeast after 17 years — shrill mating calls and all

Billions will emerge from the ground, create a new generation — with the help of very loud mating calls — and die. The last time they were here was 1996.

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BY / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2013, 9:31 AM
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Cicadas return to the Northeast this month after 17 years. Their screams are almost as loud as the subway.

Cicadas return to the New York City after 17 years. Their 90-decibel screams are as loud as a subway.

If you spent 17 years under the ground, you’d be screaming too.

Cicadas — the mysterious insects known for their bizarre life cycle and noisy mating calls — are getting ready to make their first appearance in New York City since 1996. When we last saw them, President Bill Clinton was running for his second term and the Macarena was the hot dance fad.

‘You are going to find them anyplace where old-growth trees haven’t been disturbed for at least 17 years,’  says entomologist Craig Gibbs, assistant curator at the Wildlife Conservative Society’s Queens Zoo.

JOE MARINO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

‘You are going to find them anyplace where old-growth trees haven’t been disturbed for at least 17 years,’ says entomologist Craig Gibbs, assistant curator at the Wildlife Conservative Society’s Queens Zoo.

By the end of this month, billions of cicadas across the Northeast will emerge from their subterranean slumber, create a new generation and then die. It will be over in just a few weeks.

“You are going to find them anyplace where old-growth trees haven’t been disturbed for at least 17 years,” said entomologist Craig Gibbs, assistant curator at the Wildlife Conservative Society’s Queens Zoo.

Cicadas will emerge when the weather hits 64 degrees — the last time, in 1996, that was May 21.

HYUNGWON KANG/REUTERS

Cicadas will emerge when the weather hits 64 degrees — the last time, in 1996, that was May 21.

RELATED: CICADA COOKING? TRY THEM IN PIZZA, TACOS ¬– EVEN JELLO!

Cicadas come out in warmer weather; the magic number is 64 degrees. They burrow through the ground, mate and lay eggs under tree bark. Their offspring hatch and make their way back to the earth to start the cycle over.

Gibbs says cicadas are one of the few insects that mathematicians are fascinated with because of their prime-number breeding cycle — 17 years in the Northeast, 13 years in the South.

JOE MARINO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Gibbs says cicadas are one of the few insects that mathematicians are fascinated with because of their prime-number breeding cycle — 17 years in the Northeast, 13 years in the South.

Cicada expert Ed Johnson said he expects Staten Island to have the largest numbers in the city but said the mysterious insect will pop up in all five boroughs very soon.

“Their little biological clocks are ticking,” said Johnson, director of natural sciences at the Staten Island Museum.

The last time you saw a cicada, President Bill Clinton was running for his second term and the Macarena was the hot dance fad.

STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The last time you saw a cicada, President Bill Clinton was running for his second term and the Macarena was the hot dance fad.

“Last time they came out was May 21, 1996. Anyone who has an outdoor commencement will probably be accounting for that.”

RELATED: BUGGIN: HEALTH OFFICIALS GIVE CICADA ICE CREAM THE AXE

Their 90-decibel calls can rival the clamor of a subway.

Gibbs said it’s unclear why cicadas only appear every 17 years in the Northeast and 13 years in the South. Some experts suspect their prime-number life cycles were naturally designed to counter more ordinary life cycles of predators. “Cicadas are probably one of the few insects that mathematicians are obsessed with,” said Gibbs.

Because they are harmless to humans — cicadas don’t bite or carry diseases — little money has been available for research.

Johnson and Gibbs hope citizen scientists pitch in with their own observations. “We’re fed a steady diet of ‘reality’ things on television, most of which have nothing to do with reality,” said Johnson. “This is something that’s real, not scripted. It happens once every 17 years, and you shouldn’t miss this.”

lcolangelo@nydailynews.com

Read more in; Storm Surge; A Coastal Village Battles the Atlantic, Beach Wars; 10,000 Years on a Barrier Beach and The View From Strawberry Hill; Reflections on the Hottest Year on Record. See Strawberry Hill, UPNE, and Schiffer book tabs at the top of this page.

 

 

Read more in; Storm Surge; A Coastal Village Battles the Atlantic, Beach Wars; 10,000 Years on a Barrier Beach and The View From Strawberry Hill; Reflections on the Hottest Year on Record. See Strawberry Hill, UPNE, and Schiffer book tabs at the top of this page.


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