17-year cicadas

by Chris Bertram on May 7, 2004

There’s “a fascinating piece in the Economist”:http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=2647052 about the 17-year cicadas that are about to emerge — in “a plague of biblical proportions” — all over the eastern United States, why they (and their 13-year cousins) have prime-numbered life-cycles, how parasites evolve strategies to match, and other cool stuff. Enjoy!



matt 05.07.04 at 9:20 pm

“All over” the eastern US is not quite correct: we are spared from it here in New England.

Just another reason not to visit Washington in the summer.


LeftCoast 05.07.04 at 11:48 pm

Just read an article (which I can’t find for the life of me) that asserts the 13 and 17 year cycles developed to increase survival rates during the last ice age. This assertion, too, is based on a mathematical model. They cited as supporting evidence, if I recall, that the 17 year and 13 year cicadas occupy different zones across the US with 17 year ones inhabiting a band north of the 13 year ones.

Not knowing any details of either study, I suspect that small changes in the underlying assumptions would have a substantial impact on the conclusions.

On the plus side, cicada are suitable for an Atkins diet.

Apologies for the lack of a citation. If I run across it I’ll post it.


Matt 05.09.04 at 7:33 pm

Yeah, here in the DC area the newspapers have been carrying recipes for grilled cicada and shishkabugs.


Stippler 05.13.04 at 2:55 pm


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