The current issue of The Economist has an interesting story on the just-now-emerging-from-seventeen-years-in-the-ground cicadas. Here in northern Virginia, these bugs – Brood X of the 17-year cicada – will soon be swarming awkwardly in flight and making quite a racket, although not as densely as in parts of the American midwest.
One interesting hypothesis is that cicadas are now more numerous than in our less-developed past. The reason is that the larvae nourish themselves on tree roots, and, some researchers believe, the roots of younger trees are more tasty and have more nourishment than do the roots of older trees.
The suburbanization that has occurred in much of America has resulted in lots of “leafy avenues, lawns with the odd sapling growing in them, and golf courses” – which, as hypothesized by Prof. Keith Clay of Indiana University in Bloomington, are better for these insects than pre-Colombian foliage.
I wonder if Greenpeace will distribute a bumper sticker that reads: Hug a Developer: The Cicadas’ Best Friend.