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They Sing, Mate, Then Die: The Wonders Of The Cicada

Newly emerged adult cicadas dry their wings May 16, 2004 at a park in Washington, DC.  (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Newly emerged adult cicadas dry their wings May 16, 2004 at a park in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After 17 years underground, periodical cicadas are emerging in 15 states. They sing. Mate. Then die. We hear the wonders of the period cicada.  


Jessica Ware, associate curator in invertebrate zoology the American Museum of Natural History. (@JessicaLWareLab)

Also Featured

Jenna Jadin, evolutionary biologist. Author of “Cicada-licious.”

Marianne Alleyne, assistant professor in entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (@Cotesia1)

David Rothenberg, professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Author of “Why Birds Sing” and “Bug Music.” (@whybirdssing)

From The Reading List

Associated Press: “Nature at its craziest: Trillions of cicadas about to emerge” — “Sifting through a shovel load of dirt in a suburban backyard, Michael Raupp and Paula Shrewsbury find their quarry: a cicada nymph.”

The Atlantic: “The Biggest Party of 2021 Is About to Start” — “A lot can change in 17 years. The last time the cicadas were here, the virus behind the SARS outbreak had finally retreated. George W. Bush was campaigning for his second presidential term, and Myspace had commenced its meteoric rise.”

Washington Post: “Opinion: The cicadas are coming. And they’re changing dramatically.” — “In late May 2017, my husband and I were walking around the leafy suburbs west of D.C. The noise of the cicadas was deafening.”

The Atlantic: “Cicadas Have an Existential Problem” — “When the cicadas of Brood X start to swarm the United States in their billions, try to look beyond their overwhelming numbers. Instead, focus on just one of them.”

Washington Post: “Five myths about periodical cicadas” — “After spending 17 years underground, billions of periodical cicadas will emerge shortly to sing, mate, lay eggs and die. Americans on the East Coast will have the rare opportunity to witness this dramatic natural spectacle.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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