Cicadas Surrounded

  • Magicicada on a small tree next to the parking lot in Moon Twp, PA, 9 June 2019 (photo by Kate St. John)

For many years I’ve anticipated the return of Brood VIII of the 17-year cicadas, Magicicada sp. They were stunning at the west end of Nichol Road in Raccoon Creek State Park in 2002 so I stopped by that location two weeks ago. What a disappointment! There were almost none.

Consequently when I heard them in Moon Township yesterday I followed the sound and ended up here, right next to the center pindrop labeled “AMC Settlement Services.” (center of satellite image)

Large parking lots surround a small woodlot where Brood VIII magicicadas emerge in 2019 (screenshot of Google satellite image)

Cicadas were calling, flying, mating and oviposting in that narrow arc of trees surrounded by parking lots. My photos include the holes they emerged from beneath the trees, their discarded exoskeletons, cicadas perched on knee-high bushes, and a cicada on its back on the asphalt. It wasn’t dead. It bounced off my leg, landed on its back, and couldn’t fly again until the wind rolled it over and freed its wings.

Cicada activity in this small woodlot was in stark contrast to the lack of cicadas elsewhere. Clearly the Brood VIII population is smaller than it used to be.

In 2002 this generation burrowed underground and waited to mature in 2019. Meanwhile bulldozers cleared land, pavers laid asphalt. Cicadas that survived the bulldozers were trapped under pavement. They will die this year without reproducing.

Why aren’t there more Magicicadas in Moon Township, PA? They can’t get out.

(cicada photos by Kate St. John, screenshot of Google satellite map of Moon Twp PA; click on the caption to see the original)

p.s. For more information on 17-year periodical cicadas, see this 2016 article on Brood V.

6 thoughts on “Cicadas Surrounded

  1. Almost no cicadas in Raccoon Creek State Park? Whaaaaaaaaaaaa? You must have been in a different place than me, or somehow just (un)lucky, or your definition of “lots of cicadas” is verrrry different from mine.

    I was camping in D loop from May 24-27 and OMG SO MANY CICADAS. Our tents were covered with a hundred more every morning. The grounds beneath nearby trees were a solid thick carpet of exoskeleton shells and new adults. There were so many crawling around on the grass that we couldn’t walk anywhere without crushing some. I tried to sit and relax next to the fire one evening and was picking off and flinging away a nymph crawling up my leg almost every five minutes.

    Here are a couple pictures I got from the first morning:

    1. Oh my! I was in a different part of the park, further north. Wish I’d been there!! (but only for half an hour, not all night)

    1. There are many in Natrona Heights and the Russellton area. Also all over River Forest and Saxon golf courses. The sound is just amazing.

  2. I drive around most of the day for work. I was in Franklin Park in the North Hills area Friday, the cicada were deafening in the late afternoon. I didn’t see any though. Sunday I left my cicada free compound in Richland Township & went 3 miles away to West Deer. Deafening cicada, thousands of holes in the ground. Today I had a tire blow out on RT 28 near Kittanning, so I was sitting by the side of the road for a while. Cicada were loud enough to compete with the noise of passing traffic, & were swarming everywhere. Up the road 5 miles or so close to Kittanning proper it was the same. Trips to Ross Township, Etna & McCandless turned up none. I guess it all depends where you are.

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