Brood II Cicadas in New Jersey

You’ve probably heard about the cicadas taking over New Jersey and other parts of the country. It’s part of the 17 year cycle. I read all about their lifecycle on Wikipedia.

Last week we spotted the first few nymphs emerging from the ground. A block away there were reports of massive molting, and a few started appearing on our block. For us, the change was last night/this morning. On the walk to school there was a definite change. You have to look down if you want to avoid stepping on them. They were littering our front walk way. I’ve heard this will get much worse. They aren’t making noise yet and the ground isn’t undulating with the creatures.

The nymph shell.
The empty nymph shell. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

Apparently these are called nymph shells. After the bug crawls out of the earth (almost a foot down), they shed their skins and become adults. You can see those skins everywhere, from the ground to the grass, to tree trunks and telephone poles to tires.

The adults mate and head to the trees (see photos below of them in the trees). The female lays hundreds of eggs in slits she makes in the bark/branches. The things that come out of those hatched eggs drop to the ground and burrow down.  Then they emerge in 17 years when the ground temperature is 64. They live off tree root juice. These bugs are disgusting, but amazing.

My daughter began collecting the shells.

This is day 3, and she began raiding the neighbors’ yards. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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Lots of people eat cicadas. The Washington Post did a taste test. They taste like asparagus or shrimp. Not that I tried it (nor will I). Estimates are a million of cicadas per acre. That’s a lot of cicada shells and carcases, after they shed, mate and die. Cure world hunger! Eat our cicadas!

This transformed from a pale yellow new adult, to this ugly thing in about 3 hours. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Newly emerged adult, pale and yellow. The transformation to dark and ugly is very quick – a few hours. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
An adult on our walkway. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
My favorite picture. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Look what’s riding on our tires. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
The trees are covered! Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
They’re laying their eggs! Don’t open your mouth. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
They molt in the grass, on the trees, on bushes, on telephone poles, on tires…Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan


By: Deborah Abrams Kaplan

One Reply to “Brood II Cicadas in New Jersey”

  1. like I was sayin’, cicadas is the fruit of New Joisey. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, cicada-kabobs, cicada creole, cicada gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple cicada, lemon cicada, coconut cicada, pepper cicada, cicada soup, cicada stew, cicada salad, cicada and potatoes, cicada burger, cicada sandwich. That- that’s about it.

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