Archives for category: Insects

All is quiet…

For the past week or so, I have seen the tips of branches on trees turn brown due to the female cicadas laying their eggs in the bark. The female will scar the bark in order to lay eggs and sometimes this results in the branch tip breaking and falling to the ground.

Tree showing brown branch tips due to Cicada activity

Tree showing brown branch tips due to Cicada activity

There is noticably more branch debris on the ground compared to other years.

Tips of tree branches on ground due to Cicadas laying eggs in bark

Tips of tree branches on ground due to Cicadas laying eggs in bark

Oak tree twig showing scarring by cicada

Oak tree twig showing scarring by cicada

There are many cicada carcasses on the ground providing a feast for wildlife.

A feast for ants and chipmunks

A feast for ants and chipmunks

Dead cicadas are all over the place

Dead cicadas are all over the place

The volume of noise produced by the male Cicadas began to diminish during the last week in June, by the second week of July the noise ceased entirely. The adult cicadas are no longer visible on foliage, it appears that the adult phase of the Brood II Cicada is drawing to a close.

Just a note about the cicada life cycle: The females lay eggs in branches, the baby cicadas drop to the ground where they burrow into the earth. They grow bigger under ground, staying there for 17 years before emerging as nymphs. After emerging they shed their exoskeleton and become adult cicadas. The male cicadas produce the sound to attract females and the cycle begins again.

Exoskeletons left behind when nymphs became adult cicadas

Exoskeletons left behind when nymphs became adult cicadas

Cicadas mating, beleive it or not they can walk at the same time

Cicadas mating, believe it or not they can walk at the same time

Participate in a Cicada Tracker project and assist research scientist John Cooley and professor Chris Simon at the University of Connecticut Ecology & Evolutionary Biology department, who are conducting scientific research into the 2013 Brood II Cicada event. Cicada Tracker

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Inundated with Cicadas

Local resident Hatice observed a huge number of cicadas in the Malden on Hudson area which abuts the eastern shore of the Hudson River. Check out the photos she provided to get an idea of just how numerous the cicadas were.

Cicadas - Malden on Hudson. Photo by Hatice

Cicadas – Malden on Hudson. Photo by Hatice

Cicadas on peony. Photo by Hatice

Cicadas on peony. Photo by Hatice


Choc-cadas, a seasonal treat from the Hudson Valley, NY

“They taste crunchy and a little creamy. Mostly chocolatey.” That was how Lucky Chocolates  owner and Chocolatier, Rae described the chocolate dipped Cicadas, featured in her candy store  for the First Friday promotion on  June 7th in the Hudson Valley village of Saugerties. A friend collected the insects, removed the legs and wings and baked the cicadas. Rae added sticks and dipped them in organic 70% cocoa dark chocolate – surprisingly they were a hit! Mentioned on the store’s Facebook page, many people inquired, but quantities were limited to 25 Choc-cadas and they quickly sold out. One of the reasons Cicadas were featured was because Rae wanted to overcome people’s resistance to eating insects which are not part of today’s mainstream American diet. She adds “Other cultures eat insects and they are a good source of protein.” Rae loves the sound of the Cicadas and whilst walking her dog, discovered that Ulster Landing beach was teaming with them.  (Note: People who have a shellfish allergy should not eat  Cicadas)

Unfortunately you’ll have to wait another 17 years to sample the next batch because Hudson Valley cicadas emerge from the ground every 17 years.  Take a look at the Lucky Chocolates Facebook page for more seasonal information.

'Choc-cadas' - chocolate covered cicadas from Lucky Chocolates

‘Choc-cadas’ – chocolate covered cicadas from Lucky Chocolates

Adult Cicada from the Hudson Valley

Adult Cicada from the Hudson Valley


Cicadas – a diary

I first heard the cicadas in my garden on June 1st in my area of the Mid-Hudson Valley. They are not very loud in my backyard but other people have complained the noise is so loud it keeps them awake at night and they have to use ear plugs to deaden the sound. How do they sound? If you have ever traveled by tram and heard the noise on the overhead wires before a tram arrives – that’s the sound, a sort of tense, low, whining buzz, a little eerie to be sure. Driving along one country road the sound fluctuates, in some places very load, then growing quieter as you drive a few meters further. This indicates that locally, there may be places where there is an abundance of cicadas, in other places, less.

Cicada drying itself out after a thunderstorm

Cicada drying itself out after a thunderstorm

In flight they resemble large orange moths and they fly at a similar speed to a butterfly or moth, usually heading for a shrub or tree. There are large numbers of adults clinging to branches and crawling on the ground and many are squashed on the road by cars. Looking carefully, I can see the exit holes in the soil and of course there are hundreds of abandoned exoskeletons still attached to plants/shrubs and on every flat surface outside.

Cicada exit hole (Nickle placed alongside to show size)

Cicada exit hole (Nickle placed alongside to show size)

Per Wikipedia they are a good source of protein and the chipmunks are certainly enjoying eating them, they leave behind the parts they don’t like – wings, the hard outer shell of the abdomen and the head. These parts are scavenged by ants. I read cicadas are edible but I am hesitant to try cooking and eating them myself, even though free food is always a good thing. Second thought, having conversed with friends on Facebook I think I’ll Google for a recipe and try cooking them. (It will come as no surprise that my son instantly said “No!” when I asked him it he’d eat one) With the Foodie movement encouraging us ‘Eat Local’ I am surprised our restaurants have not featured cicadas on the menu as seasonal item – how about deep-fried cicada as a starter? Or kebabs?

As you have probably heard, the Hudson Valley cicadas have a 17 year cycle and are called Brood II. Although many of my friends can’t stand them I feel lucky to be able to observe one of nature’s events and grateful that humans have not messed it up (yet)

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