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Community (June 15-21, 2007)

Alexandre Duret-Lutz

Book Tree: a Bookcrossing Event

Richard C. Drew

The Bugs From Brigadoon - 17 year Cicadas

Cook County Forests, Illinois, USA

4:30pm, June 20, 2007

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© 2007 Richard C. Drew, All Rights Reserved.



Every 17 years local residents are treated to a spectacular explosion of unique insect life. This community lives hidden below ground, the Nymphs thriving by sucking sap from tree roots. Like the mythical Brigadoon, they emerge for only a short time before disappearing into the mists of time, only to reemerge again in another 17 years, destined to repeat the cycle over and over.

The 17 year Cicada invasion was nearing its end as the current WWP event took place. At the peak, this same area had tens of thousands of these critters visible – the trees were crawling with them. The ground was crawling with them. It was an army on the march. It was not uncommon to see hundreds of these red-eyed, orange-winged visitors covering a tree trunk, climbing upwards to find a secure spot to molt. Often some trees were so thick with them that it looked like the bark was alive! The Cicadas loud chittering can be heard over half a mile away, rising and falling in volume. At the peak, almost every tree in the area is home its own community of Cicadas.

When they start chittering, the surrounding community trees answer – and the "song" spreads in waves across entire forests. It’s often so loud that you have to go inside to hold a conversation. This oscillating chittering “song” of the Cicadas has been equated to the sound of a lawn sprinkler, albeit much louder. Once heard, you never forget it!

Cicadas are often called Locusts (incorrectly) because early settlers were reminded of the biblical plague. They are low in fat and high in protein, and some people (not me!) eat them as a treat (the locusts, not the settlers.) Local dogs, cats and birds DO consider them a feast. The Cicadas in my area are Magicicada cassini. They molt soon after emerging – you can see their crunchy empty shells all over the woods, clinging to bark, branches, and leaves. There are several hundred in the photo, but only the closest can be seen.

If you look closely, Cicada can be seen on most of the tree trunks in the photo. Normally I would avoid promoting another website, but there is an excellent video on Youtube showing every detail of the Cicada invasion and life cycle.


USA-Canada / USA-Illinois

Lat: 41° 39' 6.71" N
Long: 87° 45' 34.18" W

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: Medium. Nearby, but not to the last decimal.


Hardware: Canon 20D, Sigma Fisheye, Agnos TCP short pano head, Manfrotto Tripod. Software: Photoshop CS2, Pano2QTVR.

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