Mark

Mark

So the cicadas are coming. What does that mean? There are hundreds of species of cicadas throughout the world but the ones getting the hype right now are the shrimp size Magicicadas or periodical cicadas (13 and 17 year cicadas). Actually there are 24 different “broods” of cicadas that emerge in the spring and summer at different years and in different geographic locations (this is a GIS post after all so I have to use “geo” somewhere). Brood II is a 17 year cycle emerging in 2013 in CT, GA MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA, VA when the soil temperatures reaches  64 F degrees about 8 inches below the surface.

The periodic cicadas live all but a brief portion (three weeks) of their life underground (1-8 feet) as grubs feeding on root juices.  When they emerge to mate they do so in large numbers (i.e. millions, a plague, etc). Actually this is a natural defense called “predator satiation” that ensures enough survivors are left behind to reproduce.

Cicada map, image credit: ABC 7

Cicada map, image credit: ABC 7

Apparently they are not only tasty for birds and other wild predators but also as a delicacy to people as well, according to Jena Jadin, University of Maryland. Other than the loud noises and general nuisance they are not harmful to people. My wife’s niece would dispute that after “colliding” with several during a 5K race in Fredericksburg, VA recently.

A comment I heard the other day “Perhaps the cicadas will not be so bad this year since we have paved so much over the last 17 years.”  A sad commentary if that is true.

Here are some good sites for information and maps:


Mark Helmken, Executive Director of the Center for GIS at Towson University, has over 20 years of experience with GIS, systems engineering, systems integration, and GPS and remote sensing technologies. Mark leads a group of accomplished professionals who provide geospatial solutions to governments, business, and non-profits around the state of Maryland. He works with them to adapt and respond to rapidly changing technologies in the areas of mapping and data management.