Hey Heidi: When will the cicadas leave town?

6:25 AM, Jun 16, 2011   |    comments
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St. Louis (KSDK) - Ah, the sweet sound of cicadas, a sound that for some people is worse than fingernails on a chalkboard, but for female cicadas, well it's music to their little ears.

"That is a mating call," explains Edward Spevak, Curator of Invertebrates at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Of course when you multiply that mating call by tens of thousands of cicadas the sound becomes rather annoying. That said, these little noise makers do have a couple of redeeming qualities.

"What they're doing underground is aerating the soil. They're also allowing beneficial fungi, they're actually helping to maintain the ecosystem, maintain the diversity of the plant life. Then when they do emerge it's a major food resource for a lot of the birds, mammals, reptiles," Spevak points out.

However, that means your dog might also find them rather tasty.

"The cicadas are not toxic to dogs, but they're high in protein, they're also high in fat, they're also very nutritious, but like anything if you overindulge odds are you're going to get diarrhea," Spevak goes on to say.

And as far as why they're in one neighborhood and not another basically has to do with trees.

"Even if you have trees now, like here in Forest Park at one time there weren't so as you've overturned the soil for housing developments or any sort of change in environment you may have lost part of that population," Spevak says.

The other thing to know is they're pretty harmless.

"They don't feed on grasses, they can't take off paint, they can't sting, they can't bite," Spevak adds.

Nope, they just annoy and that's what they'll do for four to six weeks after their emergence then they die.

"The adults are dead, but now you have all of the eggs in trees as soon as those eggs hatch the young fall out of the tress and shrubs and burrow in and another 13 years underground," Spevak explains.

Moral of the story, enjoy the other 13 years of peace and quiet.




















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