Brood X

There are actually three species of periodical cicadas that make up Brood X. Magicicada septendecim or Pharaoh Cicada; Magicicada cassinii or Dwarf Periodical Cicada; and Magicicada septendecula or Decula Periodical Cicada. We call these seventeen year cicadas (there are also some thirteen year ones), but these are median spans: Decula can live from ten to twenty-one years. Here’s a guide, which also includes recordings of the chorus and songs.

Many are called. We’re talking billions. As many as 1.4 million per acre, or so says an often repeated factoid. We couldn’t walk around Princeton Cemetery without stepping on the husks. The side-street leading to the cemetery’s gate was piled up with shells and corpses. There’s a lot of carnage.

Fewer are chosen. A lot don’t even make the transformation to the above-ground adult. Disease and predators take a fearsome toll. (This should be a baby-boom year for everything that eats these.) And, of course, our insatiable imperial desires to take over the plant rob them of life, too. The Long Island population is a case in point–but there’s at least one Brood X observation on iNaturalist now.

I know some people are grossed out by all this. And I don’t envy the clean up. But what an astonishing, amazing spectacle this is.

Breaking: yesterday, a sighting was reported in Prospect Park!

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