Monday, June 10, 2013
The uppermost topic on all anipals’ minds is: “Can I eat these things and not get sick?” The short answer is YES!!!! What a relief since those cicadas are really noisy and irritating, a trial for cats and dogs. I say, give the AMA a high paw for telling our worried humans it’s fine if we indulge. The AMA does recommend that humans watch how many we ingest since the wings and legs can irritate our throat and maybe a sensitive tummy. (medicalnewstoday) Cicadas don’t bite or sting, so we are safe against that type of injury.
The current crop of Cicadas is a periodical brood known as Magicicada which emerges every 13 or 17 years. These are the reddish ones with red eyes. Cicadas appearing together maintain their populations without predators reducing their populations.
There are other cicadas known as Dog Days or Tibicen since they come out every 1-5 years. This guy is a greenish, large species (thinks to self, I bet those are really satisfying crunchies).
Cicadas have in interesting life cycle where they spend most of their life as a nymph underground. When Nature signals “it’s time”, nymphs burrow out of the ground and find a plant to crawl onto so they can molt. Once they have molted, the whitish exoskeleton darkens and hardens. Once the exoskeletons have hardened, adult mating behaviors begin.(insects.University of Michigan)
The males start singing to attract females and fly short distances to find the lady. Once mated, females cut lines in young tree branches to deposit her eggs which may number up to 600. After 6 to ten weeks, eggs hatch, the nymphs drop to the ground and burrow to find a root for food source. The life cycle repeats.
I would like to clear up a misconception that locusts are the same insect as cicadas. They are classified differently and their scientific names show that they are from different families.
For all those humans who have been worrying about us anipals eating cicadas, you should know that they are a very good protein source. Look for the nymphs and females for the best eating. There are hundreds of recipes such as candied cicadas. Yum! 2 years ago when eastern Missouri had their 13 year Brood, an enterprising ice cream store owner in Columbia decided to cash in on this protein source. He coated the cicadas in sugar and chocolate, adding them to 1 batch of ice cream. The ice cream was doing a brisk business until the city health department suggested that it might be against regulations.
I hope you have enjoyed our first science article. If you have suggestions for topics, let me know!
MaggieTKat aka The Mags