Brood II has emerged…

An adult brood II cicada, a 17 year periodical cicada seen in late May of 2013 in Bergen County, NJ, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

An adult brood II cicada, a 17 year periodical cicada seen in late May of 2013 in Bergen County, NJ, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

A few hours ago on my walk I came across the first live adult Brood II cicadas not only of the spring, but the first I’ve ever seen, ever. As an Englishman in the USA the phenomenon of Brood II is very alien to me, and speaking of aliens – the emergence of billions of these otherworldly insects every seventeen years really is like something from a Ridley Scott film. Thankfully they don’t bite or have acid for blood!

An adult brood II cicada, a 17 year periodical cicada seen in late May of 2013 in Bergen County, NJ, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

An adult brood II cicada, a 17 year periodical cicada seen in late May of 2013 in Bergen County, NJ, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

After seeing some shed nymphal skins clinging to leaves in recent days, the adult cicadas I saw today were both dead (squashed) and alive on the footpaths and sidewalks beside a school in our corner of Bergen County, New Jersey. Some were more active than others, flapping around or lying on their backs trying desperately to get upright, while others were fairly still and I was able to get my camera lens very close to one to take the macro photographs you see here.

Having heard so much about periodical cicadas over the last year or so it was fascinating to finally see them in person. I was actually expecting I would hear them before I saw them but the deafening Brood II soundtrack I’ve been warned about has yet to begin. Being such a rare event it’s essential material for  photographers to document (digital cameras were a rarity in 1996) and for children or young adults (and immigrants!) to learn about. Personally I’m really looking forward to the experience.

You can log your Brood II cicada sightings at the Cicada Tracker project set up by NPR’s science show Radiolab: http://project.wnyc.org/cicadas/index.html

The shed nymphal skin of a brood II cicada after emerging, a 17 year periodical cicada seen in late May of 2013 in Bergen County, NJ, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

The shed nymphal skin of a brood II cicada after emerging, a 17 year periodical cicada seen in late May of 2013 in Bergen County, NJ, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

The shed nymphal skin of a brood II cicada after emerging, a 17 year periodical cicada seen in late May of 2013 in Bergen County, NJ, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

The shed nymphal skin of a brood II cicada after emerging, a 17 year periodical cicada seen in late May of 2013 in Bergen County, NJ, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

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3 responses to “Brood II has emerged…

  1. Great photos and what a strange event. Do Mediterranean cicadas have a similar life cycle? Enjoy the ‘music’.

    • So far I think there are a lot less cicadas than were expected Karen, but it may just be a delay due to the late spring perhaps. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks…

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