Cicadas as Meteorologists?

5 Oct

The much-hyped cicada Swarmageddon turned out to be a bust this past spring–at least in our area. Far from being a plague of biblical proportions, not a single Brood II cicada graced our yard. Local pundits suggested that perhaps the cicadas were put off by Washington, DC traffic….

But just because periodical cicadas (like the Brood IIs, which appear every 17 years) didn’t put in much of an appearance, that doesn’t mean other cicadas haven’t been going about their usual business. This morning, as I sat sipping my coffee, I glanced out the window and saw a visitor hanging on our screen.


It was an annual (or Dog-Day) cicada, and the visit was brief. Possibly because it was rushing to complete its checklist amid a rapidly ticking biological clock. Dog-Day cicadas are supposed to show up during the long, hot days of July and August.  This is October–though admittedly, it’s been an unusually warm October so far. Today, temperatures are expected to hit 84 degrees F. And since it does feel like summer has dragged on and on, that Dog-Day cicada seems to be right on target.

According to folklore, these cicadas are seasonal barometers in one other way, too: once you hear them singing, you can expect the first frost of the season in six weeks. I’ll be on the lookout.

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