Homoptera Cicadas And Others

When there is an emergence of one of the species of periodical cicadas (family Cicadidae), many Americans, for whatever reasons, seem to regard them as legitimate fun food. During a recent (1990) emergence in Chicago and northern Illinois, for example, the Chicago Sun-Times carried several articles, the second of which began: "Millions of tasty, entrees-if-you-dare will be available for the gathering during the next month in northern Illinois, and some Chicagoans will want to know how cicada fanciers prepare them." Several recipes were provided. Articles described cicada biology and how to prevent damage caused by egg laying on very young plants and urged Chicagoans to forego the use of insecticidal sprays. There were many radio reports, a cicada hotline, and even Time magazine published a recipe.

There are six species of periodical cicadas (Magicicada) in North America, three with a 13-year cycle and three with a 17-year cycle. The nymph remains in the soil, feeding on the roots of various plants until ready for the final molt. It then digs itself out of the ground, climbs the nearest tree or shrub, and attaches itself firmly. The adult lives for a month or longer. The so-called dog-day cicadas, such as those of the genus Tibicen, have shorter life cycles, but even they require at least 4 years. Cicadas are eaten in many countries, but probably most widely in the countries of southeastern Asia.

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