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Scrapbook -- April 4, 2011
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I hear that cicadas are back. My children used to collect the shells they leave on tree trunks. The ones we are seeing now are a species that appears in 13-year intervals. They are probably best known for their buzzing and clicking noises. Their sound is one of the “summer sounds.” The males make this noise with a “built-in drum.”

There are about 3,000 species of this bug. But only a few of them have this habit of disappearing for years before coming back in great numbers. The “dog day” cicadas show up each year in mid-summer.  They have multi-year cycles, but some adults appear each year.

These are strange critters. They don’t bite. Don’t sting. Don’t sing. They are clumsy fliers. They pretty much just get in the way.

After the new adults molt, they mate, lay eggs and die within a period of a month. Six or seven weeks later the young ones hatch, fall to the ground and burrow 18 to 20 inches underground. For the next 13 to 17 years they tunnel through the ground and suck their food from tree roots. How’s that for an interesting life!

Word List: cicadas, intervals, disappearing, interesting.

-- dcw