ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Culturing Science

Culturing Science


Biology as relevant to us earthly beings
Culturing Science Home

The Swan Song of the Cicadas


Email   PrintPrint



After surviving cicada emergences and witnessing several cycles of journalism’s cicada beat, you’d think I’d have seen it all. Articles about prime number cycling and climate change, evolution and recipes. I even contributed to the pile-on in 2011, considering why bursts of cicadas don’t seem to help bird populations. All of this attention is, of course, well-deserved: cicadas are fascinating animals that we only experience briefly.

But somehow through all of this, there was something missing: a time-lapse film that encapsulated their above-ground lifecycle. I had never seen footage of nymphs tunneling out from below the soil, being eaten by turtles and ants, and their rice-sized larvae emerging from holes bored in tree branches to fall and burrow back underground.

Thanks to Samuel Orr, 2013 is the year when I finally saw all this. He’s released a glorious 7-minute preview of a documentary he’s planning–which you can lovingly Kickstart–that I can’t seem to stop watching. (Seriously. It’s been close to 10 times in just the past five days.)

It reminds me of how little of the cicada lifecycle we actually experience, for all we complain about the noise. We see the nymphs’ husks stuck to the sides of trees or park benches, and hear the millions of cicadas calling in synchrony from the treetops. But it’s easy to forget that our experience spans just 6 weeks or so of lives that are 17+ years long–just the swan song (or death rattle) of the cicadas.

Watch the stunning preview below (in HD), and Kickstart the project here.

Image: Flickr user janesays

Hannah Waters About the Author: Hannah Waters writes about natural history and the way people think about nature. She lives and works in Philadelphia, PA, but really on the internet. Follow on Twitter @hannahjwaters.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Add Comment

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American MIND iPad

Give a Gift & Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now >>

X

Email this Article

X