Main | Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cicadas Appear Four Years Early

Cicadas are appearing on Staten Island four years before their 17-year cycle due date. Scientists are blaming global warming.
Similar early risers have been detected all along the Eastern Seaboard, and an Ohio researcher who has studied the bugs for 35 years is sure warmer winters are to blame. "This is the fifth brood where part of it is coming out early," said Gene Kritsky, an entomologist and professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. "When you have a phenomenon that is that widespread, the most likely candidate is some kind of climate-driven response." The 2-inch-long insects, which do not sting or bite people, spend almost all their lives underground, sucking on fluid from tree roots, until they come out all at once every 17 years to mate. Kritsky suspects that unusually warm winters cause trees briefly to become active, effecting changes in the fluids that make the insects think an extra year has passed.
Only a fraction of the cicadas' total population have appeared and most are expected to emerge on schedule in 2013. Still, it's not a good sign.

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