Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A hiatus, and Readers Write In!

I'm back in the swing of the semester and my SENIOR YEAR OF MY UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE. I can not believe it. I've pretty much been in some sort of educational institution for the past 22 years. That's a gross number of years. And I'm just so excited to graduate with my Bachelors degree in Wildlife Management and then move on, to whatever is next.

Between my internship at the NYSDEC this summer (which I'm still working on, btw) that consisted of a lot of computer time, I have not been blogging nearly as frequently as I'd like. And now I'm back in school and the craziness of course work has started, I'm interning, and TWS club involvement has me struggling to blog.

Hopefully I'll find my stasis though, and get back into the groove.

On my other blog, which I write on the Albany Times Union website (Discovering wildlife), I started this new feature called "Readers Write In". It's a borrowed idea from Dr. David Steen over at Living Alongside Wildlife, but I like it because it's stimulates conversation between myself and blog readers. I have a much more diverse audience over there, so it's fun to field questions and read their anecdotes. They often have a much different apporach to wildlife than many of my followers and followees here on Blogger.

So here's my first installment of Readers Write In, copied and shared here.

Readers Write In: Are those cicadas I hear?

From jb:

Dead cicada (species unknown) found in Middleburgh, NY.

I’m wondering about cicadas. I believe they are the creatures I hear buzzing loudly in the trees right now on this hot afternoon, and whose shells (moltings?) I find in my yard. But then this year I read about the 17-year hatchings, which this area (Bethlehem) wasn’t supposed to be affected by. So are there different types of the insect – one annual and one every 17 years?

This is the perfect time to talk about cicadas, and they ARE wildlife, so of course I can address them!
This list is borrowed from the
American Tinnitus Association (
This time of year, there are bugs and bug noises galore. Between grasshoppers, katydids, crickets and the cicadas, the sound is deafening sometimes! In fact, I’ve read anecdotes that state cicadas have been measured reaching 85 decibels, which is comparable to the sound of average traffic. Which, I don’t consider to be very loud, until you consider the size of the creature MAKING the noise. It is pretty incredible!

Ok, so to address the species of cicada that jb was most likely inquiring about: doubtful it was the Magicicada sp., which includes those 13 and 17 year insects that crawl out of the Earth and are found en masse. Although that DID occur this summer in NY, we do also have annual cicadas that we see and hear every summer, just not in the sheer numbers like Magicicada. The reason why I’m skeptical to call them Magicicada is because of the time of the summer jb wrote to me. Also, it’s an AMAZING sight to see hundreds/thousands of these large insects at once. The hatching of these cicadas typically occurs in May and June. Jb wrote to me on August 22nd- likely all of the Magicicada brood that hatched this year, are probably dead by now. They are short-lived with one purpose: to procreate.
Cicada species unknown. Found in Lyons, NY. July 2013. Photo credit: Kaley Catlin
BUT I am not where jb is, and I didn’t see/hear what jb saw and heard. I can only speculate.
The last piece to this, is the difference in appearance. Generally, Magicada and our “annual” cicada species look the same, but there are differences in coloration. See below.

Photo credit:
Magicicada septendecim can be found in New York, according to this map. This map was updated just this year with sightings that were found in a database. That doesn’t mean this species hatched in NY this year, it just means that historically it has been found here. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to know about. I wouldn’t mind witnessing this phenomenon. I think it’s kind of a special type of occurence, that really doesn’t happen that often.

Did anyone out there witness the mass hatchings of a 13 or 17 year cicada brood? If so, please share you experience below!

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