17 Year Cicadas: Mating

17 Year Cicadas: Mating

ambience: cicadas

This past spring and summer, we were treated to one of nature’s great periodic events – the emergence of a brood of 17 year cicadas. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Across the country, countless cicada nymphs emerged from their underground burrows, where they’ve been feeding on tree sap for the past 17 years.

Raupp: “In early May, on a warm evening, when soil temperatures approach the mid 60’s, they’ll emerge from these holes, make a mad dash to tree trunks and other vertical structures, climb up, shed their skin, and the adult cicada will emerge. And within a few days, once their outer skin hardens, they will then fly to the treetops to join the other males and females, and complete the life cycle.”

Dr. Mike Raupp is professor of Entomology at the University of Maryland. He says that adult cicadas live just a few weeks — long enough to mate and lay their eggs.

“The males and females will begin to look at each other. They’ll go eyeball to eyeball. And the male cicada will use three distinct calls to try to convince that female cicada that he should be the father of her nymphs. If he’s successful, she’ll signify her receptivity by flicking her wings and they then will mate. Shortly after they mate he will seal her with what’s called a ‘copulatory plug’ – basically the insect equivalent of a chastity belt. This insures that only his sperm fertilize her eggs. He will then move off and court other females, and she will then move to small branches where she will insert her eggs into those small twigs and the life cycle is complete.”

We’ll hear more about cicadas in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

17 Year Cicadas: Mating

With cicadas, it's how you sound that matters to the females.
Air Date:08/09/2004
Scientist:
Transcript:

17 Year Cicadas: Mating

ambience: cicadas

This past spring and summer, we were treated to one of nature's great periodic events - the emergence of a brood of 17 year cicadas. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Across the country, countless cicada nymphs emerged from their underground burrows, where they've been feeding on tree sap for the past 17 years.

Raupp: "In early May, on a warm evening, when soil temperatures approach the mid 60's, they'll emerge from these holes, make a mad dash to tree trunks and other vertical structures, climb up, shed their skin, and the adult cicada will emerge. And within a few days, once their outer skin hardens, they will then fly to the treetops to join the other males and females, and complete the life cycle."

Dr. Mike Raupp is professor of Entomology at the University of Maryland. He says that adult cicadas live just a few weeks -- long enough to mate and lay their eggs.

"The males and females will begin to look at each other. They'll go eyeball to eyeball. And the male cicada will use three distinct calls to try to convince that female cicada that he should be the father of her nymphs. If he's successful, she'll signify her receptivity by flicking her wings and they then will mate. Shortly after they mate he will seal her with what's called a 'copulatory plug' - basically the insect equivalent of a chastity belt. This insures that only his sperm fertilize her eggs. He will then move off and court other females, and she will then move to small branches where she will insert her eggs into those small twigs and the life cycle is complete."

We'll hear more about cicadas in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music