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FutureStarrCicadas in Georgia OOR
Scientists are returning to the woods today, ready to find as many cicada shells as they can. They’ll be looking for clues to the insects’ origins and how they survived so long in the Georgia heat. Some of the cicadas are decades old. And scientists expect to find dozens of the living fossils -- all of them with instruments that eavesdrop on the deep, quiet, and otherworldly sounds of the ancient insects.
And even in those counties, don’t expect to see cicadas by the trillions or billions, as some catchy news headlines suggest. According to Dr. Nancy Hinkle, Professor of Entomology from the University of Georgia, those numbers just don't exist in our state of Georgia. Rather, there are clusters of hundreds to thousands of cicadas, then you may not see that many for miles. They will have much higher cicada numbers in part of the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley.
These cicadas started their lives as eggs on tree leaves. Newly hatched cicadas fall from the trees and go back down into the soil where they’ll spend the next 17 years of their lives, sucking on the sap from tree roots for energy. Seventeen years later, the nymphs come up from the ground, climb up a tree or power pole and molt, leaving that charming skin lying around. Then they’ll spend the next couple of weeks above ground searching for a mate, mating and laying eggs on tree branches. Then they die and the process repeats itself. (Source: www.11alive.com)
"You’ve got a creature that spends 17 years in a COVID-like existence, isolated underground sucking on plant sap, right? In the 17th year these teenagers are going to come out of the earth by the billions if not trillions. They’re going to try to best everything on the planet that wants to eat them during this critical period of the nighttime when they’re just trying to grow up, they’re just trying to be adults, shed that skin, get their wings, go up into the treetops, escape their predators," he says.
While periodical cicada nymphs live underground for 17 years, feeding on sap from tree roots, they only live aboveground as adults for a few weeks. During this time, they mate and lay their eggs in tree branches. Eggs will hatch and the newly-hatched nymphs fall to the ground and burrow into the soil where they will attach their mouthparts to underground roots and feed on sap for the next 17 years. Because they are so small, their feeding does no damage to the tree. (Source: site.extension.uga.edu)