Major Swarms Of Insects

Mighty_Emperor

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Brood X Due to Hatch This Year

Not a sign of the coming Apocalypse I hope.

After 17 years, millions of cicadas will swarm this spring

Associated Press




BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — This year's spring should sound different from any other in nearly a generation because scientists are expecting millions of cicadas to emerge from 17 years underground.

When they appear in late May, the 17-year cicadas known as Brood X will transform the environment, filling the air with their winged bodies and the days with sound.

"This is likely to be the biggest insect outbreak on Earth, and Bloomington is right in the center of it," said Keith Clay, an Indiana University biology professor and director of the IU Research and Teaching Preserve. "They're going to come out around May 25, plus or minus a few days. You can almost set your watch by it."

The insects are known as periodical cicadas and are distinct from the cicadas — commonly called locusts — that emerge every year.

Periodical cicadas live only in the eastern United States, with different broods emerging every year at different locations. Each brood is labeled with a Roman numeral.

The Brood X cicadas spend the last seven or eight years of their underground lives between 4 and 8 inches below the surface, using their piercing mouths to suck on roots.

When they dig out, they are wingless nymphs. They then crawl onto a tree and break out of their hard shells, after which their wings quickly dry and their bodies darken.

"Basically, the only thing the adults do is mate," Clay said. "And then the females lay eggs. Then they die."

The adults live only about three weeks, and the infestation will be finished about a month after it begins. They will leave behind eggs that will hatch into larvae. The larvae will emerge and become adult cicadas in 2021.

Clay said it's been documented that cicadas can emerge at densities as high as 1.5 million per acre. "A quarter-acre suburban lot could produce 500 pounds of cicadas," he said.

The sudden appearance and die-off lead to a feeding frenzy for other animals.

"Basically everything starts chowing down. Birds, cats, dogs, fish, rodents will stop what they're doing and eat cicadas," Clay said. "There's an old-boy tale that fishing's no good when they're out — the fish are stuffed."

The IU research preserve and Jim Speer, a geography professor at Indiana State University, will be using a 0,000 National Science Foundation grant to study the cicadas. They will be charting the size and locations of the infestation and studying the relationship between the cicadas and the environment, particularly the forest ecosystem.

Part of the work will involve covering patches of vegetation with large nets to keep the insects from laying eggs, allowing scientists to compare what happens in nearby areas with and without cicadas.

"It's of interest because a biological event of this magnitude emphasizes that humans are not above nature but are part of it," he said.
http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2004/01/12in/met-front-cicada0112-4463.html
 
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Anonymous

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They certainly make it sound scary as hell, don't they?
I've lived here all my life and other than the noise, it's not that bad. The other wildlife does do a good job of keeping up with them. However finding a casing on a tree is unsettling at first, very alien looking.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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We'll be looking forward to reports from ground zero (and photos) - if we don't hear from you around this time we'll know what happened ;)

Emps
 
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Emperor said:
We'll be looking forward to reports from ground zero (and photos) - if we don't hear from you around this time we'll know what happened ;)

Emps
"They're advancing on City Hall now, oh the humanity!"
Your average Big Ugly Bug.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Another massive swarm due:

'Biblical' locust plague threatens Mideast

Ahead of Passover, U.N. agency warns of potential devastation

Posted: March 2, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern




© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com

With the Passover celebration just weeks away, a locust plague of biblical proportions could threaten parts of the Middle East and Africa, according to a United Nations agency.

An outbreak that potentially could darken the sky and consume everything in its path is "in progress on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia where swarms are forming," the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said.

Despite intensive control operations, swarms are expected to move into the country's interior where a further generation of breeding could occur in the spring. Some could reach areas in Jordan, southern Iraq and Western Iran later in the spring, the agency said, according to the JTA news service.

The U.N. agency is appealing for million to stave off outbreaks in desert parts of northern and western Africa, including Mali, Chad and Mauritania.

"If control operations have to slow down or be interrupted, more locusts added to those already there could contribute to eventually transforming the current situation into a plague," the organization warned.

According to the book of Exodus, a locust outbreak was one of the 10 plagues inflicted on the Egyptians prior to Israel's flight from captivity, commemorated by Jews and many Christians in the Passover celebration.

"The Bible and talmudic literature describe the plague of locusts as one of the worst visitations to come upon the country," the Encyclopedia Judaica says. "Its gravity and extent varies from time to time."

Another plague of locusts in the Bible was recounted by the prophet Joel, who said they made the fig tree "clean bare; the branches thereof are made white," JTA notes.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says the desert locust, a form of grasshopper, can quickly multiply into massive swarms capable of moving hundreds or even thousands of miles.

"When the locusts find ideal conditions in a sequence of seasonal breeding areas, upsurges can develop and lead to rapid multiplication and increasingly large swarms," said the U.N. organization, which has a special Locust Group to coordinate operations against any threat.

"If an upsurge is not controlled, a plague can occur in which swarms invade countries outside the traditional breeding areas," the agency said, according to JTA. "Crop damage by swarms can be devastating."
http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=37374
 
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Anonymous

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I hope they don't show up in New Jersey. I wouldn't be able to leave my house.
 

Bannik

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Midnight said:
They certainly make it sound scary as hell, don't they?
I've lived here all my life and other than the noise, it's not that bad. The other wildlife does do a good job of keeping up with them.
Especially, cicada killers.
 

Quetzelcoatl

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having recently been introduced to the horror that is the American Potato Bug I am now very scared
 

Philo_T

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Gee, thanks ethelred, now I'm going to have Potato Bug nightmares.
That's just not right. Ugh.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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More.............

Locusts swarm across Australia

A plague of locusts that has devastated crops in the Australian outback has begun migrating south.

Heavy rains that ended a long drought in north-eastern Australia has provided ideal breeding conditions for the bugs.

Officials said the swarms that appeared in remote parts of Queensland had moved to more built-up New South Wales.

"We were just staggering out of the drought, we are incredibly frustrated," said farmer Bev Dennis, based 550 km (340 miles) west of Sydney.

"A thick haze of them came through over the weekend and chomped their way through our oats crop overnight," she added.

She said the oats had been intended for her lambs, which had had very little grass to eat over the last two years due to lowest rainfall levels in a century.

"I just kept on thinking it's got to get better, but now we've got this," she said.

Useless

Until the weekend, locust fighters thought they had won the battle over Australia's worst locust outbreak since December 2000.

More than 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) have been sprayed in a bid to contain the plague.

But the heavy rainfalls that ended the drought last month rendered the insecticides virtually useless.

"Over the last week, substantial redistribution of adult locusts have occurred with movements into northern New South Wales," said the Australian Plague Locust Commission.

Commission director, Laury McCulloch, said the locusts were being picked up on the wheels of vehicles and taken into several towns.

New South Wales farmer Joe Davis, who has already lost crops to the locusts, said he had been warned to expect the worst.

"In a few days, we will see locusts that will just black the sun out," he told ABC television. "There won't be a green thing, they'll even eat the clothes off the washing line."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/3516132.stm

Published: 2004/03/16 13:32:54 GMT

© BBC MMIV
 

Vitrius

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This has happened in Alabama in my lifetime. The big green cicadas come every year, but one summer we got a hatch-out of the smaller black-bodied ones. Swarms of these things were in every tree. Seriously, people were having to wear ear plugs to do yard work because the things screetch and scream like bleeding death.

Best part of it all was their eyes. They have black bodies and bright, blood-red bug eyes. Unfortunately, the color fades within hours of death (anyone remember the movie CHUDS?).

And then they all dropped dead right on schedule and everything smelled like rotting insect carcasses for a week. Oh, and do the ants ever enjoy their putrescent bug corpses. Waves and waves of ants showed up for the feast.
 
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Anonymous

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:hah: Making plans right now to find one of those bee keeper like outfits so I'll be able to leave the house when the swarm hits!
 
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Anonymous

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Australian Locusts

As you may have heard, there is a locust plague in Australia at the moment.
On todays news (BBC 1), two residents of an area soon to be affected, in what looked like independant interviews with the reporting correspondant, said that the locusts could eat the washing off the line.
Is this true? Do locusts eat laundry?
Even artificial fibers?
Are there any presedents?:confused:
 
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Anonymous

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There is a video clip on bbc.co.uk, but Realone keeps crashing my pc, so I haven't seen it.
However, the laundry-eating statement is made again here.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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BOOKS


By Alan Cabal

LOCUST: THE DEVASTATING RISE AND MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF THE INSECT THAT SHAPED THE AMERICAN FRONTIER

BY JEFFREY A. LOCKWOOD
BASIC, 304 PAGES,



IN THE summer of 1875, on the heels of a terrible two-year drought, the largest insect outbreak in history took place in the western United States. A swarm of locusts estimated to be three-and-a-half trillion strong covered an area of 198,000 square miles in a cloud ranging from a quarter- to a half-mile deep. By way of lending some perspective on this image to the parochial New York mindset, the swarm would have covered the eastern states of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. They turned the sky black. The whirring of their wings filled the air. They struck like hail. They ate the crops. They ate the laundry hanging on the washing lines and the clothing off the bodies of settlers who flailed at them in vain. They ate the wool off the backs of frenzied sheep. They ate window blinds, fence posts, wooden siding and demonstrated a particular fondness for the wooden handles of tools such as shovels, rakes, axes and hoes.

Twenty-five years later, the Rocky Mountain locust was extinct. The mystery of precisely how this devastating scourge vanished from the American landscape persisted right up to the end of the 20th century. The case was finally cracked by an intrepid entomologist with an appetite for physically challenging field work and a fondness for television detective shows.

Jeffrey A. Lockwood is Professor of Natural Sciences and Humanities at the University of Wyoming. He's also the author of Grasshopper Dreaming and a recipient of the Pushcart Prize as well as the 2003 John Burroughs Award. His latest work, Locust, is a prime example of excellent scientific research presented in a clear and straightforward way that makes the subject accessible to any reader.

He opens with a staggering first-hand account of the damage wrought by the swarms. From Kansas: "At our place they commenced coming down about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, at first only one at a time, here and there, looking a little like flakes of snow, but acting more like the advance skirmishers of an advancing army; soon they commenced coming thicker and faster, and they again were followed by vast columns, or bodies looking almost like clouds in the atmosphere. They came rattling and pattering on the houses, and against the windows, falling in the fields, on the prairies and in the waters… By about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, every tree and bush, buildings, fences, fields, roads, and everything, except animated beings, was completely covered with grasshoppers."

The noise the swarm made was the stuff of sheer horror. As Lockwood puts it:

"Perhaps even more unforgettable than the sight of a swarm was the sound of the locusts as they arrived. A whirring buzz compared to 'a distant threshing machine' initially heralded their coming, but this smothering hum soon gave way to the sound of their feeding and seething in the fields. The settlers struggled for words to adequately describe this sensation, most often drawing a parallel to a grass fire. A scientist who witnessed many swarms described the sound in vivid terms: 'The noise their myriad jaws make when engaged in their work of destruction can be realized by anyone who has fought a prairie fire, or heard the flames passing along before a brisk wind: the low crackling and rasping—the general effect of the two sounds, are very similar.'"

Lockwood quotes the U.S. Entomological Society as placing the economic cost in damage to agriculture west of the Mississippi during the outbreaks of 1874-77 at 0 million, stating "this is equivalent to 6 billion in today's money, with annual agricultural production in the United States being valued at 7 billion."

The book proceeds through a thorough accounting of the efforts of the states and the nascent federal bureaucracy to cope with the socio-economic havoc being wrought by these pests and on to a comprehensive and succinct introduction to the brilliant and often eccentric characters attracted to the study and possible containment of this plague. The flamboyant Charles Valentine Riley is a figure out of American myth, with his convoluted family background and wildly peripatetic career path.

The last third of the book is dedicated to Lockwood's own efforts and eventual success in his quest to uncover the truth behind the sudden disappearance of the species. His eloquence hits its full stride as he describes the processes leading to his epiphany, itself described as more of an unfolding than a leaping flash of insight. His expeditions in the field attempting to recover specimens from melting glaciers are not in any way overblown or exaggerated. There's an endearing humility in his tone as he recounts what amounts to a forensic Indiana Jones adventure. A quote in the bridge to this section stuck with me, as it gives the reader an excellent insight into the workings of Lockwood's fabulous reasoning, and a disturbing (probably unintended) implication regarding our own destiny:

"In recent years, the emerging field of complexity is finding that sudden catastrophic changes may be inherent in some systems, including populations. My own work in the field of catastrophe theory suggests that modern grasshopper outbreaks may be precisely such systems. Their erratic dynamics are entirely normal, although we can exacerbate the outbreaks by mismanagement of the rangeland. We've even found evidence that grasshopper populations exhibit a phenomenon called self-organizing criticality, in which they naturally develop to the point where outbreaks and crashes are triggered by their own biology."

"Self-organizing criticality" is a disturbing concept when applied to human populations. Fortunately, Lockwood doesn't go there, but he does indulge himself in a Jeremiad at the conclusion that goes on just long enough to indicate a certain charming naivete as regards the relation of people to entropy in ecological systems. He closes on a disarmingly perverse note, suggesting that the Rocky Mountain locust may not, in fact, be truly extinct at all. The great plague of the Golden West may simply be biding its time, lying dormant in the last pristine habitat left to it: Yellowstone National Park
http://www.nypress.com/17/13/books/cabal.cfm

Get it from:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0738208949/
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0738208949/

Emps
 

Mighty_Emperor

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In the eye of the swarm

All over eastern Australia farmers are struggling to cope with great swarms of locusts. But where do these plagues come from?

The insect swarms could not have come at a worse time for the farmers, who were only just recovering from bushfires and the worst drought to hit the country in 100 years.

Unfortunately, it is precisely the conditions that were helping them to recover - a little rain, the growth of new shoots - that have also created the locust problem.

"The rain causes the crops to grow and the grass to grow - there's the [locusts'] food," Philip Blades of Blades Biological, a company supplying insects for education and research, explained to BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"Then the rain produces damp soil to lay their egg tubes in... that has to be moist otherwise they'll dehydrate.

"So damp, growth of food, then they'll bloom. Once the food's gone they'll have to move on."

Biblical horror

This need to move on is what triggers the swarms.

Every day they take off at about 11 in the morning and fly 30-50km (20-30 miles).

They came in literally like a black haze
Australian farmer Phil Thompson
The horror of the plagues is nothing new. In the Bible, Exodus describes how God sent the locusts to punish Egypt: "When it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

"And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; for they covered the face of the whole Earth, so that the land was darkened."

Modern-day plagues are no less frightening.

"They came in literally like a black haze at about 12 o'clock, and by three or four in the afternoon they were everywhere, eating the crops out," New South Wales farmer Phil Thompson told Outlook.

"By the following morning the crops were gone."

Mr Thompson said he had been set to harvest 140 hectares (350 acres) of oats. The swarm has now put him back 12 months.

Mass flight

Aware of the potential problem, the Australian Plague Locusts Commission had sprayed around 185,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of land in the region with the aim of killing the immature locusts before they were able to fly.

"I guess if they hadn't done that it would have been a lot worse," Mr Thompson added.

"But we didn't know the extent of the locusts left. Once they landed there was nothing we could do.

"And the worst is yet to come, because these guys we've got now have actually got to lay their eggs. In the spring, if we get a crop it'll be looking nice and green, and the locusts will hatch out again."

There can be up to 40 billion locusts in one swarm.

During one plague in Somalia, the locusts devoured enough food to feed 400,000 people for a whole year. The swarm covered 1,000 square km.

Again and again

"Locusts can be seen as a black cloud up to 30 miles away, 500 to 600 feet above ground level," said Captain AS Aralleh, who works for the Desert Locusts Control Organisation in north-east Africa.

"When you go through it, you can literally see nothing on the windscreen of the aircraft."

Locust swarms are currently on the move in southern Algeria and Mauritania. As in Australia, the main way they are being combated is through aerial spraying.

But the impact of this is still likely to be limited against the sheer numbers involved. A female locust can lay between 60 and 100 eggs, and be ready to spawn again within in a week.

In total, locusts can live for around 30 days. About 90% will die at the end of migration, although they will try to spawn first.

However, this means the locusts do form an extensive part of the food chain in some areas of the world. Some are eaten by human beings, but more usual predators include birds, reptiles and mammals.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/3583337.stm

Published: 2004/03/31 10:09:32 GMT

© BBC MMIV
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Cicada: The other, other white meat

Epicures ready to make a meal of high-pitched pests
Jacques Tiziou kept cicadas from their last appearance, 17 years ago, in his freezer, and has been eating them ever since.
By Cameron W. Barr

Updated: 05:04 AM PT April16, 2004

When buzzing hordes of 17-year cicadas rise from the earth next month, some people will marvel, some will cower, some will shrug their shoulders.

Jacques Tiziou, a Frenchman-turned-American who lives in a tree-fringed colonial in Northwest, will gather as many as he can, eating a few right away and saving the rest for later. Silver-bearded and gentle of disposition, he speaks in accented English that makes even bugs sound irresistible.

"You're going to grab one and put it in your mouth alive," he says with a twinkle in his eye. "You have to."

Tiziou offers a guest two ways of consuming a few of the cicadas he still has in his freezer from 1987, the year of their last emergence in the Washington area. Some he sautés, leaving them enrobed in parsley and butter. And some he presents plain, black things about as big as the top half of your pinky, wingless but still leggy, on a little white saucer.

Long history of bug-eating
Cicada-eating has a long history on this continent. The original inhabitants ate them. The current population is less enthralled, or maybe less hungry. Either way, some people are trying to revive human cicada consumption.

At Fahrenheit, a restaurant in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, cicadas almost made the menu this year. "The soft-shelled cicada, it's done just like a soft-shelled crab," says executive chef Frank Belosic, describing how freshly molted cicadas should be rolled in flour, pan-fried in olive oil, and finished with a sauce of white wine, butter and shallots. Served as an appetizer, the dish would have cost diners or so.

"Higher-ups," Belosic adds, crushed the idea, in order not "to scare people away."

Such is the hard slog of the enterprising American entomophage — the eater of insects. In many parts of the world, people ingest bugs with regularity and even delight. In Western countries, insect-eating triggers the gag reflex.

Consider Kara Watkins, a waitress from Modesto, Calif., who consumed three live potato bugs on an April episode of NBC's "Fear Factor" as her co-contestants giggled convulsively.

"They were freaky-looking," she says of her six-legged snacks in an interview on the show's Web site. "They were huge. I didn't want them to bite me so I bit off their heads first and then popped in their bodies. They tasted like vomit."

"They're totally in the process of making things look yucky," sighs David George Gordon, a science writer in Port Townsend, Wash., and the author of "The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook." For him, insects are items of haute cuisine, and the cicadas about to emerge in the eastern United States should be considered a delicacy. "They have a nutty flavor," he says, "almost like a pistachio nut."

Drink as you cook
Gordon's cookbook offers a recipe for cicada-topped pizza. As an accompaniment, he suggests a crisp chardonnay or a semillon blanc. He also recommends you begin drinking as you cook, "to fortify yourself."

Although Americans are gradually increasing their intentional insect intake — a few bug parts get into everything from apple butter to wheat flour — the practice remains more a matter of novelty than nutrition. But when the billions of cicadas belonging to Brood X (the X stands for 10) leave their underground habitats next month, people who want to taste a bug may find their garage doors laden with opportunities.

The brood is one of 15 batches of periodical cicadas, a set of species unique to the eastern United States. The insects spend 13 or 17 years underground before emerging into a cacophonous adulthood that lasts only a few weeks and consists of mating, egg-laying and dying. Entomologists expect the cicadas to emerge in the District and about 15 states beginning in mid- to late May.

The males will create their trademark din, and cicadas of both sexes may startle and annoy the people in their midst, but the insects do not sting or bite. For many birds, mammals and reptiles, the cicadas will provide weeks of meals.

Experienced cicada-eaters advise would-be entomophages to be alert for the mass emergence that will begin one May evening, when nymphs — as many as 1.5 million per acre — will crawl out of the soil and head for a vertical surface, usually a tree.

There they will molt, taking about an hour to squeeze out of their dust-colored skins. Once they have broken free, it is your moment to strike: Pluck the creamy white adults off the trees. Gather as many as you desire for the culinary adventures ahead. Admire their red eyes and furled wings.

Short shelf-life
Do hurry. The exoskeletons of the newly molted adults will turn black within about 12 hours and harden over the next couple days. Once that happens, the cicadas remain eminently edible but they lose their soft-shell cachet. They're also easier to apprehend in their just-molted stage.

If you don't want to eat your cicadas right off the tree, cookbook author Gordon recommends placing your bounty in the freezer. "It's a dignified death; they drift off into a deep sleep and never feel any pain," he says.

With your cicada supply on ice, the options unfold.

Native Americans dry roasted them using fire-heated rocks. John Zyla, an amateur naturalist in Ridge, in southern St. Mary's County, suggests laying a few dozen on a cookie sheet and baking them in a 350-degree oven for five minutes.

Then serve with toothpicks and a selection of condiments for dipping, ranging from sweet to savory: chocolate sauce, honey, melted cheese, ketchup, mustard. Viola: cicada fondue.

The females, loaded with eggs, are more of a bite than the males, whose abdomens are largely hollow, in part because of the anatomical structures that allow them to make noise. Zyla likens the dry-roasted males to an "air-puffed Cheeto."

Some purists simply boil cicadas for a minute or two, in order to better appreciate their flavor. Other entomophages recommend stir-frying them; they will absorb the flavors of the rest of the dish. Some aficionados like their cicadas battered and deep-fried.

Growing popularity
Grubco Inc., a Fairfield, Ohio, company that is one of the nation's leading suppliers of edible insects, reports that human consumption is rising. Company President Dale Cochran estimates that he sells 20,000 crickets, mealworms and wax worms every week to people who will eat the insects themselves or serve them to others. A decade ago, he sold a quarter as many bugs for human consumption. "It goes in cycles," he says. "The 'Fear Factor' show has kind of increased demand, and at Halloween time we get quite a few people ordering them."

"The overall idea of eating insects is probably more widely accepted than it was 20 years ago in the U.S.," adds Tom Turpin, professor of entomology at Purdue University and founder of The Bug Bowl, an annual festival focused on insects that begins today in West Lafayette, Ind.

More than 30,000 people were expected to attend this year's two-day event, three times the number who showed up five years ago. Thousands of Bug Bowl-goers consume a stir-fried mealworm or a chocolate-dipped grasshopper.

Still, persuading people to eat a bug isn't easy. "We've all grown up to think of insects as basically the enemy," says Michael Schauff, a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Not so in Asia, where Thais munch on fried grasshoppers and Japanese eat the rice grasshopper known as hashi, a practice that curbs the need to use pesticides in the paddies. Africans adore locusts and many varieties of caterpillars. Many people in Central and South America consume ants, grasshoppers, stink beetles, and, well, the list is long.

Bug-eating enthusiasts suggest that Americans should include a few more insects in their diet. At a time when the safety of many sources of protein — from beef to salmon — is being called into question, insects offer an alternative. Shrimp and lobsters, part of the same biological phylum that includes bugs, are essentially sea insects. No one thinks twice about spreading toast with honey, known among wise-cracking entomologists as "bee vomit."

"If we broadened our palate," says Gordon, "we'd have a much better time of surviving in large numbers."

Chez Tiziou, the buffet awaits. "By itself, [a cicada] doesn't have much taste, you know," he says.

He's right. His delightful parsley-and-garlic butter certainly perks up a the insect's gastronomic appeal. Served plain, cicadas have more crunch than flavor.

Once they're in the mouth, the unmistakable feeling is one of anticlimax. In the end, a cicada is just another creature available for the eating. And like anything else that's been frozen for 17 years, the plain ones taste like freezer.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4752983/
 
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Anonymous

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it's a thread about inbsects!

I'll not be able to sleep tonight you bastards :(
 
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Anonymous

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Especially, cicada killers.......

Que'st que c'est, better run run run run run run away.....

Whilst in Canada a couple of years ago i saw a cicada on a tree branch just above me. Bloody ugly looking thing (might have thought the same about me) and i asked my cousin if they had ever been known to fall out of the trees. (Picture me screaming down the road at mach 2 with one in my hair......)
 
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Anonymous

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A Friend of mine is getting married in May, he was warned about the possiblity that cicadas might ruin the outdoor wedding, as if your inlaws aren’t annoying enough. The wedding planner found this website, with lots of FAQ.

http://www.dancentury.com/cicada/wedding.html

Cicada song: (turn your speakers down first-sorry lots of pop-ups)
http://members.fortunecity.com/cicadaman1999/index.html

Cicada Killer Info:

The ones I remember seeing were much bigger than the picture shown, but then again I was a kid last time I saw one, probably umm 17 years ago hmmmm

http://ww2.lafayette.edu/~hollidac/cicadakillerhome.html
 

Mighty_Emperor

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The Brood X mania is really starting to get moving now (although we have been keeping an eye on developments for a while ;) ):

Billions of cicadas set to plague US

12:22 23 April 04

A widespread resurrection, orgies on a biblical scale, and births and deaths numbering in the billions will all soon be on display in the eastern US as a uniquely enormous population of insects known as 17-year cicadas bubble up from the ground.

As their name suggests, these insects are famous for emerging from their subterranean nurseries on a predictable, but oddly-spaced schedule. Some species have a 13-year life cycle, others appear every 17-years.

Different broods of the insects emerge almost every year in some part of the US. But 2004's crop of red-eyed, winged insects, ominously referred to as Brood X, is special, says Michael Schauff of the Agricultural Research Service's Systematic Entomology Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland.

"Brood X is the largest single emergence of the species," he says. "When they come out they are literally everywhere. It's impossible to ignore."


Skin crawling


This huge generation of cicada nymphs will begin to emerge in earnest by mid-May. They were spawned in 1987. They push out of the soil, forming tiny dirt mounds at the base of trees, and then literally crawl out of their juvenile skins.

What follows is a frenzied few weeks of feasting off plants, mating, egg laying and death. But before the end of the summer, the next generation will settle in for their very long dirt nap.

It has long been a mystery how cicadas mark time without any reference to the Sun or other seasonal signals. The current leading theory was developed by Richard Karban's team at the University of California at Davis. His experiments suggest that cicadas somehow count the yearly surges of nutrients in roots that they suckle on in their underground lairs (New Scientist print edition, 16 September 2000).

Once the appropriate year rolls around for their revival, the slight warming of the soil probably tells them spring has sprung and drives them to the surface. Scientists are now using genetic tools to try to understand how the cicada clock works on a molecular level.

Males of the species call out to their mates with an infamous love song that to human ears is as sexy and sometimes as loud as a lawn mower ripping through tall grass. The 17-year cicada also endears itself to humans by making backyards uninhabitable, pelting windshields and clogging machinery. But the insects do little actual damage to crops or people.


Tasty treats


The imminent burst of cicadas has triggered a burst of research. For example, Mike Raupp's team at the University of Maryland, College Park, are planning to study how the sudden appearance of so many tasty treats affects aquatic ecosystems, how cicadas choose trees to snack on and methods to prevent cicada damage to young plants.

There also remains the mystery of why these creatures evolved such an odd lifestyle. Schauff endorses the idea that their extended life cycle gives them an edge over predators at the surface which breed on an annual or more frequent schedule .

He points out that the enormous size of the brood also is an effective adaptation. "Their predators, such as small birds and mice, get so full of cicadas, they literally can't eat any more. They are just overwhelmed."

Even a few human cicada connoisseurs take the opportunity to sample a buggy buffet. Most popular are the animals who have just moulted from their underground skins. "They are quite soft and take on the flavour of whatever you cook them in," Schauff reports. "They are not quite like a piece of meat, more like a small white potato that's been cooked."
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994916

Links from that article:

http://www.sel.barc.usda.gov/selhome/selhome.htm

http://www.urhome.umd.edu/newsdesk/scitech/cicadas.cfm

http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/entomology/444-276/444-276.html

Other resources:

http://www.cicadamania.com

A map of the affected areas:
http://insects.ummz.lsa.umich.edu/fauna/Michigan_Cicadas/Periodical/BroodX.html

Periodical Cicada Page:
http://insects.ummz.lsa.umich.edu/fauna/michigan_cicadas/Periodical/Index.html

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Philo_T

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How about a "I survived brood X" t-shirt?!!:D
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Philo T said:
How about a "I survived brood X" t-shirt?!!:D
LOL - now is the time to start the merchandising ball rolling. Recipe books, novelty keyrings, locust swatters (with a big X on them), etc.

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Mighty_Emperor

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Kept in the freezer 17 years


By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer


SILVERTON - Be careful when reaching for the butter at Harvey Howard's house.

The 69-year-old collected and froze hundreds - if not thousands - of periodical cicadas in 1987, the last time Brood X emerged from the ground around Greater Cincinnati.

Brood X, the largest of the cicada generations that are expected to number in the billions in Greater Cincinnati alone, will emerge again next month. Dr. Gene Kritsky, a biology professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph and a cicada expert, has predicted the red-eyed bugs will emerge en masse starting about May 21.

"They look just like new," Howard said of his frozen specimens. "They look like they were born today."

Howard says he fishes with them, and sent his grandson, Keith Allen, a fourth-grader at Silverton Elementary School, to class with a handful of them Tuesday for a science project. Howard says blue gill, croppy and catfish are particularly fond of the bug.

"They're kind of delicate," Howard said of the bugs that have been dead for nearly two decades. "Once you get them on the hook, you have to kind of ease them into the water."

Howard said he collected most of the bugs from his front yard. He also enjoys woodworking and collecting coins - hobbies his wife preferred to the cicadas in the freezer.

"She thought I was crazy," Howard said of his wife, who has passed away.

Periodical cicadas bury themselves in the earth for years - sometimes 13 years, sometimes 17 years - before emerging when ground temperatures reach 64 degrees in the spring.

They shed their juvenile skin and fly into trees, where males try to attract females with a song. Females then cut into newly grown tree branches to lay their eggs.

Adult cicadas die off by late June; the eggs hatch and tiny cicada nymphs fall to the ground and bury themselves in early August.
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/04/28/loc_cicada28frozen.html
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Cicadas' bizarre survival strategy

Years spent underground may have evolved to avoid the cold

James Appleby / AP file
A female cicada lays eggs on a tree branch in this undated handout photo from the University of Illinois. Cicadas are starting to emerge for their weeks-long frenzy of molting, mating and egg laying.
By David Brown

Updated: 4:09 p.m. ET May 04, 2004WASHINGTON - Evolution has shown living things a thousand ways to save themselves.

The leopard gecko's tail pulls off, leaving the cat clutching nature's version of the tear-away jersey. The female pea crab Pinnotheres, unsatisfied with her own shell, spends its life inside an oyster. The bacterium Thermotoga maritima grows in water just below boiling temperature, an environmental niche into which most organisms won't dip a toe.

Few strategies, however, are as strange and unlikely as the one periodical cicadas found.

These large, ungainly insects in the genus Magicicada spend either 13 or 17 years underground, then emerge nearly simultaneously in densities that can exceed 1 million per acre. Their few weeks of life in the open air are spent molting, calling for a mate (in the case of the buzzing males), copulating and depositing eggs in nests made in gashed twigs (in the case of the diligent females).

They do little to defend themselves. They fly poorly, don't fight and taste great. In the parlance of animal behavior, cicadas are "predator foolhardy" -- they are always available for lunch. Birds consume them in the greatest numbers, but many other animals get in on the act. Squirrels, dogs, cats, turtles, fish and spiders all eat cicadas, which for a few weeks are the protein equivalent of manna from heaven.

Eventually, though, everyone gets full -- and there are still billions of cicadas alive. This is the survival strategy known as "predator satiation." It is a passive strategy that depends almost entirely on timing. If too few cicadas emerge, or if they come out over an extended period of time, they are likely to be wiped out by predators. If this occurs before they find a mate and create a new generation to carry their genes forward, they will eventually disappear completely.

Most species of cicada have life cycles between two and eight years, with a fair amount of variability. If five years is the dominant length, for example, many members of a population may come out in four years -- or not until the sixth.

Of course, this isn't apparent to the casual observer. That's because in most places a person hears cicadas -- often more than one species -- every summer. A fraction of the population reaches maturity and emerges every year, making the insects annual, not periodical.

Unlike Magicicada, these other species survive by strategies more clever than simply waiting for predators to get sated. For example, the large dog-day cicadas of the Deep South "are very fast, powerful flyers -- that's how they get away from the birds," said David Marshall, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Connecticut. On the other hand, many small species survive by being so well-camouflaged that "you can't see them even when they're a foot from your head," he said.

The periodical cicadas about to emerge here once shared a common ancestor with these insects. But a lot has happened since then. They have lengthened their life cycles and evolved into geographically distinct "broods" in which all members are on the same developmental schedule. They have also settled on specific life-cycle lengths, either 13 or 17 years. Both of those are large prime numbers, which means they can be divided only by themselves and 1.

How and why did this happen?

As with many questions about natural selection, nobody can say for certain. The crucial events lie in the deep past; we have only the finished product. However, knowledge of the conditions in which the traits evolved, and logical reasoning, suggest a scenario.

Biologists believe that periodical cicadas evolved during the Pleistocene Epoch, which began about 1.8 million years ago. It was a time when glaciers repeatedly advanced and retreated, and the climate of eastern North America was alternately -- and somewhat unpredictably -- warm and cool.

Members of the genus Magicicada -- the periodical cicadas -- require prolonged temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit to fly, copulate and lay eggs. The region where they evolved -- the southern edge of glaciation -- had many summers that simply weren't that warm. Cicadas that emerged in those summers would have died before they could produce offspring.

It turns out that for reasons of mathematical probability, a good strategy for avoiding randomly cold summers is to stay underground for as long as possible. The less often a brood comes up, the less often it encounters a killing summer.

The ancestors of periodical cicadas didn't somehow choose to stay underground for longer periods. However, in those ancient cicada populations were individuals that because of existing genes or new mutations were destined to develop more slowly and emerge a year or two later than their brethren. In an era of sporadically cold summers, those insects were more likely to survive -- and pass on their slow-development genes to their offspring.

Randel T. Cox of the University of Memphis and C.E. Carlton of the University of Arkansas calculated the odds of survival of populations of cicadas of different life-cycle lengths over a 1,500-year period in which 1 of every 50 summers was fatally cold. Cicadas with six-year life cycles had a 4 percent chance of surviving. Those with an 11-year cycle had a 51 percent chance. Those with a 17-year cycle had a 96 percent chance.

Each time the glaciers arrived, the ice wiped out the cicadas in the northernmost regions of eastern North America, where Magicicada was evolving. But the populations south of each "glacial maximum" would have survived and kept evolving. Over millions of years of advancing and retreating ice, genes leading to long life cycles would have been favored. They would have been "enriched" in the gene pool until ultimately they became the norm.

But why 13 or 17 years? Life cycles that long are mathematically more likely to have survived the Pleistocene era than shorter ones, but that doesn't explain the benefit of a prime number.

It turns out that if an area contains populations of cicadas with different life-cycle lengths, broods with long cycles that are high prime numbers will share summers less often with other broods. But why is that an advantage?

When broods with different cycle lengths emerge at the same time, some members will interbreed. Their offspring will be hybrids, carrying a mixture of genes. If the precise timing of a cicada's life cycle is produced by the interaction of several genes, then getting those genes from two different populations might change the interaction. That might affect the length of the life cycle.

If the offspring of 11-year and six-year cicadas are cicadas of a third cycle length -- say, nine years -- then the number of insects emerging on either parent's schedule in the next generation will decrease. That, in turn, will diminish the strength-in-numbers survival strategy on which all Magicicada species depend.

Cicadas with 13- and 17-year life cycles emerge less often with other broods than do the ones whose cycles are non-prime numbers. For example, when a brood with a 14-year life cycle emerges, it will share the summer with two-year and seven-year broods, with which it will interbreed and produce mongrel offspring. A 16-year brood will share a mating season with two-, four- and eight-year broods, and an even more diverse group of hybrids will result.

In contrast, when 13- and 17-year broods are out, they share the season only with broods having short life cycles (such as one, two or three years) -- and life cycles that short presumably couldn't survive the Pleistocene climate. The net result was that 13- or 17-year cicadas didn't have their genes "diluted" by hybridization -- except every 221 years, when they were out together in the few places where they shared the same turf.

Of course, periodical species didn't pick 13 and 17 as their magic numbers. As with all evolutionary processes, choice played no part.

What happened, instead, was that broods of other cycle lengths simply became extinct. They emerged in a cold summer and failed to reproduce, or they emerged in insufficient numbers and were eliminated by predators. What remained were the broods mathematically most likely to make it across the Pleistocene minefield -- 13 and 17. Furthermore, in those populations synchronicity was essential. Individuals whose timing was off just a little -- ones that emerged a year early or late -- were extirpated. But their brethren whose genes endowed them with perfect timing generation after generation, survived.

Various versions of this scheme of evolution have been proposed by several researchers, including Cox, Carlton and a Japanese researcher named Jin Yoshimura. But did it actually happen?

There is indirect evidence it did in today's geographic distribution of the two populations of periodical cicadas.

The 17-year broods today lie north of the 13-year broods. The border between them follows a well-known S-shaped line from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Plains. It sweeps south of most of the Appalachian Mountains and then turns north as far as southern Illinois before turning again and passing south of the Ozarks. It divides eastern North America into two zones -- one with long, harsh winters to the north, and the other with mild, shorter winters to the south.

This line marks the northern and southern ranges of various plant and animal species, or the border between subspecies with different markings, size and behavior. The life-cycle lengths of cicadas follow this same climate contour -- and strongly suggest that temperature played a crucial role in determining the life-cycle length of the periodical cicadas.

Still, Earth has other places whose ecological history is much like that of eastern North America. Why did periodical cicadas evolve only here?

"This," said Randel Cox, "is a vexing question."

"I don't have an answer to that," said David Marshall.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4893167
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Infestation of Mormon crickets could be worst in decades

Mormon crickets are back this year, and experts say the infestation around Owyhee county and southwestern Idaho may set a new record.

The U-S Department of Agriculture's Dave McNeal says the crop-eating insects have infested as many as 100-thousand acres along the northern front of the Owyhee Mountains.

He says the heaviest infestation runs along 80 miles of land stretching from Emmett in Gem County to King Hill in Elmore County, including the Boise foothills.

In the thickest areas, population levels are estimated at 2,500 per square yard.

McNeal says this continuation of a several-year outbreak could remain at high levels for ten years until there's a die-off from natural causes.

But until then, government agencies are attempting to control the insects.

McNeal says crews are spreading bait laced with pesticides in Owyhee County.
http://www.kxly.com/common/getStory.asp?id=36158
 

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Mathematicians explore cicada's mysterious link with primes

Numbers: Never mind the zillions of bugs; some experts are intrigued by the 13 and 17 factors.



By Michael Stroh
Sun Staff
Originally published May 10, 2004


It's probably no surprise that periodical cicadas like the clan invading Maryland this month are a big draw for biologists. Less obvious is why someone like Glenn Webb would care.

Webb is a mathematician. Working at Nashville's Vanderbilt University, he spends his days immersed in formulas, not fieldwork. But a backyard encounter with periodical cicadas several years ago led him to a mystery that has seduced more than a few members of his profession over the years: the cicada-prime connection.

Periodical cicadas crawl from their subterranean hideouts en masse every 13 or 17 years, depending on the kind.

For Webb and others, it's a pattern that immediately raises eyebrows: 13 and 17 are prime numbers, integers divisible by only themselves and 1. Primes, like cicadas, have been a source of fascination for centuries. So it didn't take long before scientists wondered: Is it mere coincidence that cicada emergences are timed to primes, or is some deeper mechanism at work?

"To me it's a little puzzle from evolution," says Webb, who has devised a mathematical model of cicada behavior and in 2001 published a tentative conclusion: The prime-number lifecycle is no coincidence but evolved as an effort to avoid predators.

The prime-number conundrum gets to the heart of what most people find beguiling about the bugs in the first place: why an insect would spend most of its life suckling on tree roots and a few short weeks singing and mating in the sunshine.

Adding to the intrigue is that it's difficult to find other examples of cicadalike behavior in nature. In his 1977 essay collection Ever Since Darwin, paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould notes one: Phyllostachys bambusoides, a bamboo native to Japan and China. The plant, writes Gould, flowers and sets seed every 120 years or so.

But as a grass, bamboos can propagate asexually, and typically they do many times before they flower. The 13- and 17-year cicadas have just one brief shot at sex - then they die.

Gould, a polymath who died in 2002, was among the first to propose that the cicada's unusual lifestyle is a strategy it evolved to avoid its predators.

"Some individuals hide, others taste bad, others grow spines or thick shells, still others evolve to look conspicuously like a noxious relative," Gould wrote. Periodical cicadas, he argued, did it by evolving a highly unusual reproductive cycle.

By springing forth from the ground by the millions, cicadas help ensure that no single predator can devour them, a tactic that evolutionary biologists now call the "predator satiation" strategy.

And by emerging every 13 and 17 years, Gould argues in his 1977 book, cicadas minimize the chance that their infrequent invasions will sync with the life cycles of birds and other creatures that dine on them.

For example, imagine bird species that wax and wane on a five-year cycle. If cicadas emerged every 10 years, their arrival might coincide with the peak of this avian predator, setting up a pattern that could drive the cicadas to extinction.

By cycling at a large prime number, cicadas minimize the chance that some bird or other predator can make a living off them. The emergence of a 17-year cicada species, for example, would sync with its five-year predator only every (5 multiplied by 17) 85 years.

That's the theory, anyway.

Intrigued by Gould's explanation, Glenn Webb at Vanderbilt spent several years, off and on, creating a mathematical model of periodical cicadas and hypothetical predators with two- and three-year life cycles. He found that Gould's argument held up: By emerging only every 13 or 17 years, periodical cicadas better ensured their survival.

But other scientists have done the math and concluded it's only coincidence that the insect's lifecycles also happen to be prime numbers.

Still others have argued it's not predators but weather that helped shape the cicada's behavior. The insects are thought to have evolved 1.8 million years ago during the Pleistocene epoch, when glaciers advanced and retreated across North America.

Scientists have created models showing that the more years cicadas remained nestled underground, the less likely they would emerge during a killing summer cold spell.

But that still doesn't explain why periodical cicadas settled on 13 and 17 and not 11, 19 or some other prime number.

"It's pretty controversial," Webb says of the whole cicada/prime business. "I don't know if there will ever be a satisfying scientific resolution."
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/he...y10,0,3517208.story?coll=bal-health-headlines
 

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Incoming!!

Cicada Arrival Hours Away; Are Your Plants Covered?

ChannelCincinnati.com
Updated: 04:38 AM PT May10, 2004

7:27 p.m. EDT May 7, 2004 - The cicada invasion is poised to erupt into your backyard.

WLWT Eyewitness News 5's Susanne Horgan reported Friday that Tri-Staters can expect to see the bugs busting out of the ground as early as Saturday night.

The cicadas will come out when the ground temperature hits 64 degrees. The ground temperature in some local areas already is at about 65.7 degrees in direct sunlight, Horgan reported. But the average is still a shade below 62 degrees.

Once the conditions are right, however, residents in some neighborhoods are going to need some cheesecloth and netting to protect gardens and small trees.

Tree wrapper Janet McLaughlin has her hibiscus wrapped in red tulle, Horgan reported.

And Ronda Hewitt, who works at Plants By Wolfangel, said smaller shrubs are at risk as well.

"The cicadas like young, fresh foliage," she said. "They may attack the new growth that is on the roses."

Another point to remember is any stem that looks "woody," according to Hewitt, should be covered.

"If it is six feet and under, the pine trees need to be wrapped," she said.

If cicadas do damage to your new growth, Hewitt recommended to cut back to the plant's old growth. And there is some good news, Horgan reported.

"It is going to take a severe infestation to kill a tree," Hewitt said.
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4927400/
 
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