PC P.S. (Periodical Cicada Postscript)

by Carl Strang

I thought I had finished with periodical cicadas, as indicated a couple blog posts ago. For completeness’ sake, though, I continued checking for late reports in my region. There were two that needed follow-up. The first was in Plymouth, Marshall County of Indiana. I found that report just before heading to the Mosquito Creek Bioblitz, and so altered my course to swing by there on the way down. The forest was large enough that it may have supported a large emergence in the past, but there was only one cicada singing in the reported neighborhood, and two others on the opposite edge of the forest.

That detour allowed me to make a final check of the Fulton County emergence. Cicadas still were singing, and had spread across the roads to the south and west, but clearly were past their peak. I picked up some dead ones from the roadside to serve as voucher specimens.

A second late report on iNaturalist was accompanied by the intriguing comment, “Tons of them flying around.” The location was in LaPorte County at Kingsbury Fish & Wildlife Area. That had been one of my stops in my earlier tour, when I had heard only a few individuals singing, but the report pointed to a different forest farther east which I had not checked. It was worth a day trip, and I headed over there on Friday.

As I drove to the forested east end of Nickel Road, I began to see lots of leafy twigs on the road. The trees gave the impression of autumn rather than early summer.

There was as much brown as green in the foliage

These were flags, the killed ends of branches resulting from the massive injection of periodical cicada eggs.

Oaks were the most heavily impacted trees.

I explored on foot. Most of the twigs on the ground did not have oviposition scars, an exception being a black cherry twig:

Cherry twig with periodical cicada oviposition scars

On the other hand, all the browned twigs still attached to trees were on branches with abundant egg scars:

Oak twig with periodical cicada oviposition scars

The singing was done. There were plenty of bits of dead cicadas on the ground:

Cicada remains

Scavengers had cleaned up the bodies for the most part, and it took a while for me to find a few relatively intact voucher specimens in the fringe of the affected area. As I drove back west the numbers of flags diminished, until by the time I reached the area I had checked on my previous visit there were practically none. I conclude that this was a second major Brood X emergence in the northwestern ten Indiana counties.

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