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Cicadas vs Periodic Cicadas vs Grasshoppers vs Locusts September 19, 2009

Posted by TattooedIntellectual in News.
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Jeeze, Michael’s been busy today. I’ll just go ahead and push his post down and share some boring nature stuff with you in a vain attempt to educate Rosetta.

Beginning with the cicada.

The cicada is an insect in the Family Cicadidae, typically recognized due to it’s large size and noise-producing abilities. In North America, size ranges from about an inch to approx 2.5 inches, and most species are generally a green/black combo. The noise produced by cicadas is not made by rubbing two structures together, but by timbals located on either side of the male’s abdomen. The timbals function much like a drum head, and the abdomen is mostly hollow to help amplify the sound. The song of each species is different to ensure that the proper mate is attracted, and ranges from audible to inaudible to humans. After the appropriate exercise a female cicada will lay eggs in a twig, when the eggs hatch the nymph falls to the ground and burrows in. Eventually the nymphs emerge, shed their skin, and begin the cycle again. Most cicadas accomplish this cycle every 2 to 5 years, however there are some species, generally referred to as periodic cicadas the have a 17 year life cycle (or 13 years in the southeast). Yep, both of those are prime numbers and the currently accepted theory is that this is an adaptation to avoid predation.

Typical cicada

Typical cicada

Periodic cicada

Periodic cicada

I should note that there are some places where the cicada is colloquially referred to as a locust. Apparently Rosie lives in one of those “places”.

And now the grasshopper or locust.

A locust is a short-horned grasshopper in a clique. The majority of grasshoppers belong to the Family Acrididae and are solitary, grass-species specific-eaters. Something then triggers a change and the grasshopper morphs into the locust which is no longer solitary and stationary, but gregarious and migratory. Current research seems to indicate a tactile-based hormone response. In other words, get too many grasshoppers together, touching each other and they go a little crazy. The locust will swarm and migrate in a semi-coordinated fashion, decimating almost any plant life.

Desert Grasshopper top; Locust form bottom

Desert Grasshopper top; Locust form bottom

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Comments»

1. Lipstick - September 19, 2009

TI, thanks for the info. Just a few weeks ago Mr. L. said, “listen to the cicadas” and I was thinking “sounds like locusts to me”.

He’s from Texas and I’m from Pennsylvania.

2. harrison - September 19, 2009

Yep, both of those are prime numbers and the currently accepted theory is that this is an adaptation to avoid predation.

What do their predators know of prime numbers?

3. TattooedIntellectual - September 19, 2009

I have no idea Harrison. Maybe something to do w/ most predators being on a 2 yr cycle?

4. harrison - September 19, 2009

Hmm, answering snark with facts and intelligence.
It’s a strange game you play.

5. TattooedIntellectual - September 19, 2009

with facts and intelligence.

Actually I just pulled that outta my butt, but it sounded good.

The major predator of cicadas is the cicada killer wasp, but I have no idea what it’s life-cycle is like.

6. BrewFan - September 19, 2009

Nature fact: Cranes are known around these parts as Flying Ribeye.

Now you know.

7. TattooedIntellectual - September 19, 2009

Cranes are known around these parts as Flying Ribeye.

And are they yummy?

8. scottw - September 19, 2009

Why do you know this?

9. TattooedIntellectual - September 19, 2009

Why do you know this?

‘Cuz I teach nature shit to little kids.

10. Edward J. Shucklegruber - September 19, 2009

ITS (no upholstery) is the possessive, IT’S (with apothecary) means IT IS.

BURNS ME UP

Other than that, good info! Great site! lace wigs lace wigs lace wigs

lacewings lacewings lacewings lacwings

11. harrison - September 19, 2009

This is your intellectual part, eh?

12. Vmaximus - September 19, 2009

I had some of those wasps in my shed, they were freaky scary looking. Then I figured out they did not but humans, so it was cool.

13. TattooedIntellectual - September 19, 2009

ITS (no upholstery) is the possessive, IT’S (with apothecary) means IT IS.

Dude, I’ve had 3 bitch beers, bite me. Your welcome :)

14. Michael - September 19, 2009

In other words, get too many grasshoppers together, touching each other and they go a little crazy.

TI, when I invited you to post nature stuff here, I was not expecting dirty talk like this.

15. daveintexas - September 19, 2009

Hellooo Newman.

16. Newman - September 19, 2009

Hello, Jerry.

17. scottw - September 19, 2009

I have a BS in biology, your knowledge is kinda hot.

18. Michael - September 19, 2009

What do their predators know of prime numbers?

They don’t, and that’s the point.

We had a major 17-year cicada hatch in our neighborhood in Ohio while I lived there, so I learned something about this. The air was thick with these bugs. They were a distraction at the Memorial Golf Tournament. It discouraged us from sitting on our back deck

They are big and slow and protein rich. Their survival strategy is to simply to overwhelm the ability of all predators to eat them. It’s not just a feeding frenzy for the birds — the squirrels go nuts. But the predators can’t make a dent in the millions of cicadas.

That is the security of the species — overwhelming numbers that the predators are not ready for.

For this strategy to work, no predator can evolve that anticipates them. Hence, a breeding cycle that is a prime number, and a substantial one — 17 years — makes sense. No other species is likely to evolve which responds to a cicada brood hatching out after 17 years underground.

19. TattooedIntellectual - September 19, 2009

Their survival strategy is to simply to overwhelm the ability of all predators to eat them. It’s not just a feeding frenzy for the birds — the squirrels go nuts.

Predator satiation.

20. daveintexas - September 19, 2009

great practice this afternoon with the blues band in Austin.

But I don’t think I can handle weekend gigs that far from home.

21. Michael - September 19, 2009

Predator satiation.

Yeah, that sounds to like the exact technical naturist term for what I was trying to say.

22. TattooedIntellectual - September 19, 2009

It’s ‘cuz I’m smart and stuff.

23. Michael - September 19, 2009

But I don’t think I can handle weekend gigs that far from home.

I’m thinking you’re right, even though it would be fun.

The rip down to Austin would be easy.

The trip back at 2:30 a.m. — not so good.

Getting up for church on Sunday morning — real bad.

24. daveintexas - September 19, 2009

230 would be early.

Shit, I’d have to get a room.

25. Michael - September 19, 2009

Cheer up, Dave.

There has got to be a bar near where you live, in West Buttfuck, Texas, where the bass player in the bar band really sucks.

As you know, I have driven through West Buttfuck, Texas, personally. I’m pretty sure that virtually all of the bass players at the bar bands in the town totally suck. You can tell that just by driving though.

26. Jewstin - September 19, 2009

When I lived in Atlanta, it was an unusual year when two varieties of periodic cicadas both emerged. It was soooo loud. I didn’t sleep much when I lived there.

27. Michael - September 19, 2009

Cheer up, Dave.

There has got to be a bar near where you live, in West Buttfuck, Texas, where the bass player in the bar band really sucks.

As you know, I have driven through West Buttfuck, Texas, personally. I’m pretty sure that virtually all of the bass players at the bar bands in the town totally suck. You can tell that just by driving though.

I’m sure you can get a gig locally, if you can control your spastic foot during the audition.

28. daveintexas - September 19, 2009

They mostly want to record some original tunes Michael (thank goodness). I can send you a rough cut from the iphone this afternoon, my vocals (I was learning the song… STFU)

29. Mrs. Peel - September 19, 2009

I have a cicada killer wasp somewhere around here. She spent the summer digging holes in my flowerbed and laying eggs. She must have dug about 15-20 burrows. Watching her was very cool (once I figured out she wasn’t going to attack me, that is). She really got the dirt flying.

I’m expecting a very interesting spring day when those eggs all hatch…

30. Michael - September 19, 2009

By the way, I posted about my experience with an Ohio cicada brood here.

31. xbradtc - September 19, 2009

Nice recovery, editboy.

32. lauraw - September 20, 2009

I love watching the nifty wasps. We’ve got Steel Blue Cricket Hunters here, ad some kind of large spider hunter that makes mud cells under our back porch eaves.

33. Rosetta - September 20, 2009

This post bugs me.

http://tinyurl.com/26ta94

Thanks for putting this crap up, Tattoo. I’ve always wondered about the cicada/locust thing.

And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a periodic cicada. Those are a lot cooler looking that the ones I’ve seen.

In a related note, Dave told me that BrewFan has crabs.

34. kevlarchick - September 20, 2009

We had the periodic cicadas that Michael described last summer. Pestilence and plague. I’m sure I posted about them.

The typical cicadas have a lovely call that is a soothing summer sound. And they generally remain invsible in the trees.

35. Rosetta the Racist - September 20, 2009

The typical cicadas have a lovely call that is a soothing summer sound.

I totally agree with you, kc. That sound is ubiquitous summertime white noise.

I’ve heard that every summer since I was a kid. It would be odd not to hear it.

36. daveintexas - September 20, 2009

A typical cicada smacked me on the forehead a few weeks ago when I was sitting outside. I thought someone had thrown a golf ball at me.

He made a lovely, soothing crunchy sound when I crushed him to death in my fist.

37. Southpark Cicadas - September 20, 2009

He made a lovely, soothing crunchy sound when I crushed him to death in my fist.

OHMYGOD! You killed Kenny!
YOU BASTARD!!

38. reason - September 21, 2009

“appropriate exercise”

This is what my wife calls it, too, TI.

39. the only smart person on this page - January 12, 2011

one grasshoppers are not locust. and 2 locust and cicada are the same thing

40. smarter than the self proclaimed smartest person in the room - November 29, 2011

Well Only smart person on the page— in some areas a variety of grasshopper is considered a locust bcause they morph and freak out in a swarm and devour everything in sight.The locusts of biblical times were such swarms.I encontered the same phenomena in the Dakotas in the late ’70s when they devoured acres and acres of crops and were unstoppable,gardens,yards,one neighbor even swore he saw them eat his dog down to the bone.

41. Jenny Barnard - July 30, 2012

Thank you for that information explaining the differences between grasshoppers, locusts & katydids. :-)


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