From a distance, The trunk of the big maple seems to be covered with brown leaves, or it may be acne. But getting closer, the bumps formed a living caravan, all trying their best to climb onto the branches above safely.
These are cicadas that have just been exiled from the ground and have crouched down for the past 17 years, sucking sap from the roots as they mature under a foot of soil. Today is their big day, their “appearance”, as entomologists say. After a cold spring, the soil temperature in the suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland, has reached 64 degrees: Go. The sun came out, and the larva crawled out of the hole, looking for the nearest tall object—a tree, shrub, or a piece of garden furniture—to climb. Then they waited because their bodies became stronger and harder, becoming the mini-hulks of the insect world. Within a few hours, the cicada shed its brown shell and turned into an adult from a young age. Their bodies have turned black, their eyes have become bloodshot red, they have grown a set of powerful copper-colored wings, and are eager to mate as soon as possible.
In 15 eastern states, the same ceremony is underway.Billions of cicadas emerged from Brood X this week-this is a population of three different species (two from Magic cicada) At the same time emerge from the ground. There are 12 nests of 17-year-old cicadas and 3 nests of 13-year-old cicadas in the eastern United States, which appeared in different years.But Brood X (entomologists use Roman numerals) is the largest and lives in the areas closest to densely populated centers, such as Washington DC and New Jersey, And extends westward to Ohio and Indiana.
Zoe German-Pickling Postdoctoral scientist At George Washington University, one of the few cicada researchers who are using six weeks of appearance to obtain as much information as possible about the strange lifestyle of insects, their unusual gut microbes, and their large population How prosperity produces ripples throughout the eastern forest and suburban ecosystems. Wearing comfortable jeans and a khaki hiking shirt, Getman-Pickering wandered through the local nature reserve with a clipboard and binoculars to observe thousands of hatching cicadas.
She sympathized with their struggle. Just like human beings after more than a year of Covid-19, they have also begun to get used to appearing in public again. Getman-Pickering said: “After the pandemic, many people will resonate with it.” “They blinked in the sun, a little awkward and awkward, trying to return to this world.”
She picked up an adult who had just appeared, and examined its lower abdomen to see if it was male or female. Females have a pointed “ovipositor” to lay eggs; otherwise they all look the same.
Getman-Pickering and Grace Soltis, an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, are not only interested in insects—they also documented which types of birds are feeding on this unexpected bonanza. “Our prediction is that with the emergence of all cicadas, birds can easily get a lot of food,” Getman-Pickering said. “Why look for little caterpillars when you can eat all-you-can-eat tree prawns for free?”
She said that when birds switched from their normal prey to caterpillars and other small insects to this new buffet, their numbers skyrocketed. More bird food means better breeding opportunities and more young birds.
In fact, less than an hour after the cicadas began to climb the big maple tree, a pair of fluffy woodpeckers, a few tree sparrows, and a crow swooped over and began to eat and drink. It’s not just birds, Getman-Pickering said. “Every animal is eating cicadas, including rats and dogs, if they are not controlled,” she said. People too.
Getman-Pickering collects data on the spot every day. These locations are located in the suburbs of Maryland, in another more remote rural forest area, and near Chesapeake Bay where there are no cicada-controlled sites. By comparing their bird and caterpillar populations, she hopes to outline an ecological pattern that may last a few weeks after cicadas appear. “When birds stop eating caterpillars,” Getman-Pickering said, “the number of caterpillars will explode and may cause more damage to trees. We also expect the number of parasitic wasps to increase. They remove the caterpillars from Eat it inside out and save the vital organs for the last.”