What to Expect When You’re Expecting… CICADAS!!
In the spring of 2021, the Washington, DC metro area will experience a rare and amazing natural phenomenon — the emergence of Brood X (Ten) periodical cicadas.
Over the course of a few warm evenings in May, millions and millions of strange-looking creatures will tunnel up from the soil beneath trees, crawl up a close vertical surface, and overnight undergo a dramatic change from a clumsy, shrimp-like creature to a dramatic black insect, sporting deep red eyes and delicate golden wings. For two or three weeks, these harmless and somewhat clumsy creatures are EVERYWHERE, flying, crawling, singing, scrambling, mating – and are truly unavoidable – to the delight and fascination of some, and the terror and revulsion of others. By the next month, the most visible part of the show is over, and the cicadas seem to have disappeared as quickly as they came.
Meet Magicicada! For those of us lucky enough to live in an area that hosts a periodical cicada brood, we are privileged to experience this amazing natural phenomenon every 13 or 17 years. However, because they emerge so infrequently in any one location, and because so much of their life cycle takes place underground and out of sight, most people (even biologists!) don’t know much about these fascinating insects. Where did they come from, why are there so many of them, and where will they go? What do they eat? Why and how do they make such a racket? Do they bite or sting? Dr. Weiss will answer these and many other questions, so that you will be better able to appreciate remarkable phenomenon of synchronized periodical cicada emergence.
Martha Weiss is a professor of Biology at Georgetown University, where her research focuses on behavioral interactions among plants, pollinators, herbivores, and predators over ecological and evolutionary time scales. She and her students have investigated learning in butterflies, the ecology of defecation behaviors in insects, the persistence of memory across metamorphosis in Lepidoptera, and the basis of hosts shifts in temperate butterflies. Dr. Weiss grew up in San Francisco and studied Geological Sciences at Harvard University, earning her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s Botany department. Later, she studied insect behavior at the University of Arizona. Currently, she and her colleague Dr. John Lill at George Washington University are investigating the indirect ecological effects of the Brood X periodical cicada emergence on the temperate deciduous forest community. They are very excited about the return of Brood X and are eager to share the biology of these fascinating insects with everyone!
This event is presented by Little Falls Village.