Some cicadas emerge early in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Some cicadas emerge early in Iowa


IOWA CITY - KWWL - It happens every year - big bugs called cicadas emerge, and start to make noise. But this year, something strange happened in Iowa's cicada population.

One type of cicada that normally comes out every 17 years came out four years ahead of schedule.

At Iowa City's Ryerson's Woods Park, you can hear cicadas everywhere, though finding a live one is difficult, because their life above ground is short.

'Most of that lifetime is spent in the ground. And they actually feed on roots, on tree roots,' said Mark Vitosh, District DNR Forester.

They eventually develop into adults and molt, leaving exoskeletons behind. This is when they begin their song, to find a mate. Periodical cicadas weren't due to emerge in Iowa until 2014, but Dr. Donald Lewis, an entomologist at Iowa State University, says some came up early.

'If the periodical cicadas lose count, they miss by four years, and they come out four years early.'

Dr. Lewis says that's been happening in the eastern United States since the year 2000, but this is the first time it's happened in Iowa. He says it may have something to do with climate change. The periodicals came out earlier this summer, and have all but vanished. The ones you hear now are annuals.

But when the periodicals come out in four years, it will be a big, noisy event.

'It's creepy to watch them emerge, and its unnerving to be in among them,' explained Dr. Lewis, 'because 20 to 40 thousand are singing in every tree, and it becomes this deafening roar that you hear when they emerge.'

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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