Over the next few weeks you may begin to the see & hear the distinctive sights and sounds of the 17 year Cicadas returning after their hiatus. Now they aren’t returning everywhere in our area just locations from around Lake Norman North.You can’t miss the sound or miss their appearance once you see them. These little guys are waking up after being in the ground for 17 years. Read more
It’s pretty easy to get caught up in our early taste of Spring like weather over this past weekend and today. Even so it’s still only early March and while the grass, trees and even some flowers have already started to sprout. It’s still way too early to think about planting the garden and flowers. That is unless you want to cover them several nights a week for the next month or so. Or if you just want to replace the plants a few times from now until early mid-April.
Pretty cool sight the past few morning on the Doppler radar as thousands of purple martins take flight from their overnight roosts. These birds gather in the thousands in certain locations to roost for the night. Then each morning for a few weeks in the summer they all take off to forage for food around sunrise. These flocks are so large that they show up on Doppler radar as rings. These rings start small then get larger until the birds have spread out and the ring disappears.
As someone who has a wife completely terrified of snakes I’m always on look out for them around the yard. Don’t tell my wife but I see them all the time and I rarely kill them I relocate them. shhhh!
This year though my Facebook and Twitter pages have filled with pictures and comments about all the snakes. You may have even seen this picture from down in Columbia, SC which was of a snake climbing a tree and it was almost 10’ long.
With a freeze tonight & a frost again tomorrow night across the piedmont there are a few things you can do today to help prevent damage to your garden. Temperatures tonight will drop to around 29°-30° for 2-3 hours. Tomorrow night they will drop into the mid-30s for a few hours. Tonight is the bigger threat but both could damage tender plants. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent damage.
You’ve all seen them. The tiny lizards that run all over the side of your house, the fence and the ground on warm and sunny days. They are called Carolina Anoles(Anolis carolinensis) and they come in two main colors green and brown. Though they are also often called American Chameleons because they will change colors depending on the background object they are sitting on. Lots of people keep them as pets and they are very resilient.
Hard to believe but it’s been 13 years since the periodical cicadas emerged. I had all but forgotten that this was the 13yr brood since the last time was back in 1998. This past weekend though my Facebook page exploded with questions about all the cicadas around Lake Wylie. So I checked and sure enough this was our year for the 13yr insects here in NC & the Upstate of SC to return. There is also another brood which is on a 17 year cycle which returns in 2013. You’ll likely see many of them over the next few weeks as the weather warms, but more likely you’ll hear them.
We’ll have a story on this invasion this evening at 5:45 on NewsChannel 36.
What are they?
Magicicada is a genus of periodical cicadas known for emerging in massive numbers in 17 or 13 year cycles/periods. The cicadas emerging in 2011 have 13 year life-cycles. Magicicada are also organized into broods. There are 3 broods of 13 year cicadas, and the brood emerging in 2011 is Brood XIX (nineteen).
There are 4 species of 13 year Magicicada: M. tredecim, M. neotredecim, M. tredecassini and M. tredecula. The adults of all four species have black bodies with orange markings, and red-orange eyes. M. tredecim and M. neotredecim are very similar, and you can only tell them apart by their song in areas where their ranges overlap (or by looking at DNA). They are however, larger than M. tredecassini and M. tredecula, and have a noticeably different song.
Visit this Magicicada.org species page for detailed information, including photos and audio.
Here is some video and audio of 17 year Magicicada, which look and sound remarkably similar to the 13 year variety. This will give you an idea of what to expect:
Where will they emerge?
Historically, Brood XIX has emerged in as many as 14 states (link to a map). The emergence will cover the most area in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee. Other states like Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina should have strong emergences in limited areas, and states like Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Virginia will have very limited emergences.
Important: Magicicadas won’t emerge everywhere you see on the map. They might not exist in your town or neighborhood (particularly if there’s lots of new construction, which removes trees). The key to seeing them if they don’t emerge in your neighborhood is communication: networking with friends and family, checking the interactive maps on magicicada.org, checking sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
- mid to northern Alabama
- northern Georgia
- mid to southern Illinois
- south-western Indiana
- west Kentucky
- northern Louisiana
- mid to northern Mississippi
- North Carolina
- western Oklahoma
- north-west South Carolina
- random places in Virginia
Why do Magicadas wait 13 years and why do they emerge in such large numbers? There are many theories why, but the primary reason could be that they’re trying to beat the predators. Since they emerge only once every 13 years, no species can anticipate their emergence (except man), and emerging in large numbers ensures that at least some of them will survive to reproduce.