Friday, May 17, 2013

GMG's Friday Find: It's Cicada Crunch Time!

The cicada hype is becoming as deafening as the noises we'll hear when the Brood II eruption occurs.  This year, the 17-year old insects will emerge along the East Coast from North Carolina to Connecticut.  For anyone who hasn't heard the facts, here's a quick recap:

* The cicada is not a locust; they are related to aphids and leafhoppers.
* Brood II cidadas live underground for 17 years, going through several stages of youth into adulthood.
* When the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees, it's party time! That's the signal for the cicadas to emerge from their underground homes where they shed their skin and start feeding on grass and shrub roots.  And of course mating is the #1 priority.  They sing, they fly, they mate and then they die, leaving behind an enormous amount of skeletons.

The word from the experts is that suburbanites may see anywhere from a few hundred thousand to 1.5 million cicadas per square acre!  That's a lot of crunch people. How will that impact your yard or garden?  Here are a few suggestions for how to survive the cicada invasion.

Have fun!  Nothing excites people more than oddities, and a bug that lives underground for 17 years certainly qualifies.  This can be a good learning opportunity for kids.  They can capture, collect, observe, photograph, draw and write about cicadas.  There are books to read and websites to follow to help young scientists glean knowledge while having fun. Capturing the cicadas is easy as they are slow and easy to grab, or you can use a butterfly net to capture one in flight.  Arm your child with a flashlight and spot them coming out of the ground at night; you can even see them shedding their skin on small tree branches.  With a magnifying glass your children can get up close to these crunchy critters for a thorough examination.  Doesn't that sound like fun Mom and Dad?

Have a cicada cookout!  Apparently cicadas are high in protein, low in fat and are best enjoyed just as they emerge from the ground still soft from shedding their skin.  Although I am hard pressed to compare them to other arthropods like shrimp, lobster and crabs, there are people who say the flavor is similar. Some say they taste like asparagus as well....wow, shrimp and asparagus, a tasty combo all in one nugget!  Cicadas are enjoyed by many, including birds, dogs, fox, raccoons, possum,  and just about anything flying or stalking.  Word of caution, although harmless for your dogs and cats, too many can make your pet sick. I get sick thinking about eating one.

Cleanup the Cicada Crunch!  If you live in a rural area the aftermath of the cicada invasion may result in piles and piles of dead cicadas and shed skeletons.  Collect the remains as soon as possible and add them to your compost pile or discard in the trash as they may become a little 'stinky'.  Check your gutters for possible clean-up as well.  Cicada females lay their eggs on small tree branches so if you have young trees with small branches an arborist can help you determine the best line of defense.

Watch Out For Wasps! Wasps LOVE cicadas so you may see an influx during this Brood II eruption. Protect yourself from these stinging insects with a RESCUE® W-H-Y trap so you and your family can enjoy the spectacle without worrying about stinging wasps.

We'd love to see any photos you may capture of these amazingly creepy insects, so please feel free to share. And let us know how they really taste.  Happy cicada days!

~Peggy
Garden Media Group






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