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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Bye bye bugs

cicada_farewell_1_ant

An ambitious ant pushes a cicada wing across a sidewalk towards the too-small entrance of his home hill.

cicada_farewell_2_flaggingThe Cicada Storm of 2004 is pretty much over now. We heard a few lone screechers over the weekend, but all is quiet now and the bugs' spent bodies have fallen to the ground. Everywhere, there are signs of damage from the cicada's egg laying in the outer twigs of trees. The thinner twigs die from the egg slits made by the female cicadas and droop brown in a phenomenon called "flagging" (click on the photo at right). The extent of the damage is particularly noticable on our morning commute down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

cicada_farewell_3_eggsAt a park near our house, I cracked open a flagged twig to get a sense of the size of the eggs and photographed the find against a dime for scale. Every visible brown flag represents hundreds of eggs that will hatch in a few weeks, raining ant-sized nymphs to the ground. They'll burrow down to tree roots to begin the 17-year cycle again.

In one last check of CicadaMania.com, I followed a link to some clever photos by local "streetcorner astronomer" Herman M. Heyn of a cicada in Druid Hill Park watching the projected image of Venus' transit across the Sun on June 8th. I'm puntuating this (hopefully) last cicada-themed blog post by mirroring some of Herman's photos here...

cicada_venus_1  cicada_venus_2  cicada_venus_3

11:35 PM in Baltimore | Permalink

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