On the Radio: Cicadas emerging in Iowa


The 17-year cicada is emerging from underground this summer in Iowa. Photo by Tim (Flickr)
The 17-year cicada is emerging from underground this summer in Iowa. Photo by Tim (Flickr)

This week’s On the Radio segment explores the life of the 17-year cicada, which is emerging again in Iowa after almost two decades underground. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Cicadas

After spending the last 17 years burrowed underground, the noisy yet harmless cicada will grace Iowa with its presence this summer.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

During the warm summer months, the sun heats the soil, which coaxes these red-eyed insects to emerge. The cicadas pose little threat to plant life as they feed off sap and also do not bite or sting humans or other animals.

Cicadas – which are the oldest living insect in North America – generally live in native woodlands and can be found across Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Cicadas will emerge for about four or five weeks, during which time they will search for a mate. The male cicadas will “sing” a mating call from late morning to early afternoon.

With population densities as high as 1.5 million cicadas per acre, the mating call can reach incredibly high noise levels. After finding a mate and laying as many as 600 eggs, the cicadas will begin to die off and won’t be seen again for another 17 years.

For more information about the cicadas visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

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