Do You Have a Case of Cicada Envy?
Despite the hoopla surrounding the prediction that swarms of giant bugs with red beady eyes were waiting to take over Midland Park and surrounding communities, the emergence of Magicicada Brood II failed to materialize to the proportion of previous years. Millions upon billions of cicadas were expected to appear across the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to Maine once the warm weather arrived, and appear they have, just not at the expected level and certainly not in all expected places.
The black 17-year cicada — not to be confused with the annual green Dog-Day cicada — last made an appearance in 1996. The cicada spends the majority of its life cycle living underground, feeding off liquid in tree roots and emerge once the ground temperature reaches a steady 64 degrees, which it has in Midland Park for a while now.
"If they don't have 'em now, they're going to be in for a very bad case of cicada envy," University of Maryland etymologist Michael Raupp told NBC news.
Why did the expected minions fail to materials? Experts posit a few possibilities. First, the brood will only appear in areas where they laid eggs 17-years ago, so if the cicadas did not invade your neighborhood then, they certainly won't now. Those who are newer to town will have to check with long time residents to know for sure. Changing landscapes also have an impact on the brood. The trees that nourished the larvae when they burrowed in the ground in 1996 may have been cut down or felled by a storm. Since they can't move elsewhere, they starve and die.
New construction is another factor that impacts the cicada population. "The most damaging of all perturbations would be the creation of hardscape," Raupp said. "When that happens, it's devastating to the cicada population. For example, what was a cornfield 17 years ago, that has now been regraded to be a condominium or townhouse complex. Any disturbance of 60 centimeters [2 feet in depth] is going to extirpate any cicadas in that area."
A long-time Midland Park resident told us that he vividly remembers the cicada invasion of 1979, when the streets were literally overrun with the bugs. However, by 1996, the swarms failed to materialize in his neighborhood.
If you are one of the lucky ones to have cicadas appear in your neighborhood, tell us in the comments. If you are bummed to be missing out, take comfort knowing the green annual dog day cicada should soon be arriving in a back yard near you.