Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

They're Back: 17-Year Cicadas to Blanket Northeastern U.S.

Food
They're Back: 17-Year Cicadas to Blanket Northeastern U.S.

Roughly a billion cicadas will soon take over parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York, filling the air with their raucous mating call.

Brood V cicadas, just one of type of 17-year cicada, have already made their debut in Northeast Ohio, according to Cleveland.com. While Ohio will definitely see cicadas in 2016, other states may have a year or two of waiting, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service map. Most of western Pennsylvania, for example, has three more years before the cicadas take over its counties, CBS Pittsburgh reported.

Photo credit: USDA Forest Service

Cicadas may be a nuisance to humans, and a terror for those who aren't big fans of flying bugs, but their emergence is actually beneficial to the environment. Laying their eggs in the trees provides a natural pruning that increases tree growth—though, the process can damage young trees. (To prevent this, simply cover the saplings with netting and they should survive, Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist with the National Pest Management Association, told U.S. News and World Report.) Cicadas' burrows aerate the soil and their decaying bodies provide nutrients.

The invasion only lasts six weeks. Once the baby cicadas, also called nymphs, have hatched from their eggs in the trees, they'll fall to the ground and burrow into the soil, not emerging for another 17 years. Underground they survive off moisture from tree roots. Cicadas don't eat solid food.

Speaking of food. The adult cicadas are a gluten-free, low-fat, low-carb source of protein. They're a favorite treat of dogs and cats. They're "like Hershey's Kisses falling from the sky" for our four-legged companions, Gene Kritsky, a cicada expert at Cincinnati's College of Mount St. Joseph, told U.S. News and World Report.

Humans can eat them, too. American Indians used cicadas as a food source and several countries such as China still eat them served deep-fried. Many Americans see the cicada invasion as chance for a culinary experiment as well.

The Rising Creek Bakery in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania, is making special cookies and custard to mark the 17-year occasion. Bakers freeze cicadas, remove their wings and coat them in sugar before placing them on top of a chocolate chip cookie or custard with caramel sauce, CBS Pittsburgh reported.

Photo credit: Rising Creek Bakery, Facebook

Another Pennsylvanian—Phil Enck, chef instructor and assistant professor at the Art Institute of Pittsburg—has prepared cicadas in multiple ways since the early 2000s. The first recipe he attempted was inspired by a Charleston shrimp and grits recipe, WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR member station, reported.

“We ground some of them up and we served some of them whole and once you get past the aesthetic of it, it was quite good," he told WESA. "The cicada itself kind of has the texture of a boiled peanut."

Recipe by Phil Enck

Recipes for chocolate-covered cicadas, crispy wok tossed cicadas, cicada pizza and cicada cookies are available on Cleveland.com.

If your mouth isn't watering at the thought of boiled or baked cicadas, don't worry. Here are some non-food related cicada facts for you to enjoy:

  • Cicadas, though often referred to as locusts, aren't locusts. Real locusts look like grasshoppers.
  • Only the males make the infamous cicada sound. They do so by rapidly vibrating drum-like tymbals on the sides of their abdomen.
  • Be aware you may get a few visitors if you're using a power tool or lawn mower. Cicadas can confuse the machine's noise for other cicadas.
  • Cicadas have five eyes.
  • "Honey dew" or "cicada rain" is really cicada urine.
  • They are cold-blooded, using their dark skin to absorb heat from the sun.
  • The 13-year and 17-year cicadas emerge at the same time every 221 years.
  • Raw cicadas taste like cold canned asparagus.
  • Cicadas don't bite or sting and aren't poisonous.

Chris Simon, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut–Storrs, talked to NPR's Jeremy Hobson on Here & Now about the behavior and history of Brood V cicadas. Listen here:

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' "Doomsday Clock" — an estimate of how close humanity is to the apocalypse — remains at 100 seconds to zero for 2021. Eva Hambach / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

One hundred seconds to midnight. That's how close humanity is to the apocalypse, and it's as close as the world has ever been, according to Wednesday's annual announcement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group that has been running its "Doomsday Clock" since the early years of the nuclear age in 1947.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The 13th North Atlantic right whale calf with their mother off Wassaw Island, Georgia on Jan. 19, 2010. @GeorgiaWild, under NOAA permit #20556

North Atlantic right whales are in serious trouble, but there is hope. A total of 14 new calves of the extremely endangered species have been spotted this winter between Florida and North Carolina.

Read More Show Less

Trending

There are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients. Marko Geber / Getty Images

By Yoram Vodovotz and Michael Parkinson

The majority of Americans are stressed, sleep-deprived and overweight and suffer from largely preventable lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Being overweight or obese contributes to the 50% of adults who suffer high blood pressure, 10% with diabetes and additional 35% with pre-diabetes. And the costs are unaffordable and growing. About 90% of the nearly $4 trillion Americans spend annually for health care in the U.S. is for chronic diseases and mental health conditions. But there are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients.

Read More Show Less
Candles spell out, "Fight for 1 point 5" in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on Dec. 11, 2020, in reference to 1.5°C of Earth's warming. The event was organized by the Fridays for Future climate movement. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Taking an unconventional approach to conduct the largest-ever poll on climate change, the United Nations' Development Program and the University of Oxford surveyed 1.2 million people across 50 countries from October to December of 2020 through ads distributed in mobile gaming apps.

Read More Show Less
A monarch butterfly is perched next to an adult caterpillar on a milkweed plant, the only plant the monarch will lay eggs on and the caterpillar will eat. Cathy Keifer / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

Fall used to be the time when millions of monarch butterflies in North America would journey upwards of 2,000 miles to warmer winter habitat.

Read More Show Less