Due to a warm winter, a large cicadas brood is expected to rise in several US states starting tonight. While the insects don’t pose any danger to the inhabitants of the targeted towns, they do shed an air of mystery, emerging from the ground only once every thirteen or seventeen years.
They Do It to Avoid Predators
The fact that these insects have a particular emerging pattern has fascinated scientists for quite some time now.
In order to see if there is a scientific explanation for their love for prime numbers, mathematicians have also taken a shot at cracking the code. According to them, the cicadas prefer to schedule their mating season one in five, seven, thirteen, or seventeen years to avoid predators.
The cicadas are fairly low on the food chain, but they do outlive most of their predators, so they adapted their mating season as to as to steer clear out of harm’s way.
Their Natural Alarm Clock Depends on the Roots They Feed Upon
There are people who can’t wake up even after the telephone and the alarm clock rang. So how do cicadas manage to wake up after precisely seventeen years? The answer lies in the tree roots that they feast upon, and their molecular componence.
Scientists believe that the tree sap on which the cicadas feed helps them perceive the passing of time, signaling the approach of a mating season.
Cicadas are not the only ones who are wired after a certain schedule. Recently, researchers tried to explain the seasonal migration of the monarch butterflies. Others are still puzzled by the accuracy of swans and geese that leave in search of warmer lands during the winter and return in the spring.
Cicadas Are Edible
While a cicada diet is not recommended, the insects are edible. Proof of their nutritional value was uncovered in booklet published at the beginning of the nineteenth century that read:
“The Indians make the different species of Cicada an article of diet, every year gathering quantities of them and preparing them for the table by roasting in a hot oven, stirring until they are well browned.”
In the event in which you decide to follow the recipe, keep in mind that the insects are known to retain mercury. Furthermore, they are best cooked when they first emerge, before growing their hard shell.
Image source: Wikimedia