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Cicadas to make a return

On April 4, 2013

The close cousin of the Grasshopper is going to be making a loud entrance to the above ground world this spring.

Cicadas are expected to emerge along the East Coast once the daily temperature begins to repeatedly reach 64 degrees.

There are two waves of the Magicicada Brood II, or the Pharaoh cicada that emerge every 17 years. The other wave of cicadas last emerged in spring of 2004.

Expected to arrive in April and May, the cicadas spend a majority of their life in the ground, extracting fluid out of the roots of trees and shrubs.

Cicadas come above the surface near the end of their life for breeding purposes and then usually die shortly after.

Female cicadas plant their eggs in the grooves of tree branches. Once the eggs hatch, the cicadas, appear like white ants and eventually fall to the ground and dig until reaching the root of a plant.

Cicadas are known for their constant chirping. Aaron Kidd, senior economics student from Hurricane, W.Va., said he remembers hearing the cicadas during their last appearance.

“I remember being little and seeing their shells and thinking they were really weird hanging on the side of trees,” Kidd said.

After emerging from the ground, cicadas shed an exoskeleton layer or shell to reveal a new hard outside layer with a new set of transparent wings where the veins are clearly visible.

Freshman theater performance major Devanie Carpenter said the cicadas have never really bothered her much in the past.

“Their exoskeleton doesn’t really bother me. I know cicadas can do a lot of good things for the environment — which is good,” Carpenter said. “They are really noisy though, which can be a little annoying.”

Male cicadas are able to produce their chirping sound by flexing their tymbals, which are drum like organs located in the abdomen. Females respond by producing their own chirp with the flicking of their wings.

Cicadas do not bite or sting, and there are about 2,000 species of cicadas worldwide and an estimated 170 species in North America alone.

Different types of cicadas have their own life spans. The most common of the cicadas is the Tibicen cicada, which arrives every year.

Shannon Grener can be contacted at

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