Cicadas have been in the news for the past several weeks. There have been reports about them killing trees, piling up on sidewalks, causing car accidents and being an overall nuisance. Television programs show cicadas by the thousands in some areas, but after all this hype; many areas of Mount Vernon are almost cicada-free.
"They seem to be in patches," said Fred Hoffman, volunteer and Friend of Huntley Meadows Park (FOHMP).
It's apparent that there are plenty of cicadas at Huntley Meadows; as soon as one gets out of their car they can hear the deafening cacophony.
Carolyn Gamble, site manager, was at the park 17 years ago and said, "I remember there being a lot of them [17 years ago], but I don't remember them being so loud."
"I don't remember there being so much attention paid to them last time," Hoffman said.
Gamble said that people have been calling to see if they have cicadas and fortunately for the children who live in cicada-free areas, there are plenty at Huntley Meadows.
"The kids love them," Hoffman said.
Huntley Meadows has several workshops scheduled on cicadas and one enterprising Friend even made some magnets, which are on sale at the park for $2.
AS FAR AS worrying about the critters damaging trees, they can cause physical damage to small trees if too many individuals lay eggs in its twigs. Mature trees, however, usually survive. Interestingly, despite the number of animals eating up the bugs, the cicadas are not harmed. The predators eat their fill without significantly reducing the population. And the predator population canít build up in response because the cicada is only available every 13 or 17 years.
"It's an interesting survival strategy," Gamble said.
Upcoming Workshops on Cicadas
Monday, June 21 —
Young Explorers-Cicada Cycles. 6-8 yrs., 3:15-4:30 p.m. Learn about the life cycle of the cicada through indoor and outdoor activities. Reservations required. Cancelled if rain. $3.
Tuesday, June 22 —
Periodical Cicadas-Return of Brood X. Adults, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Join entomologist Dr. Dexter Hinckley for a slide show about this insect phenomenon. Free to FOHMP members and Huntley Meadows volunteers. Reservations required. $3.
Wednesday, June 23 & Thursday, June 24 —
Nature Detectives-Cicada Cycles. 3-5 yrs., 9:30-10:15 a.m. or 10:45-11:30 a.m. Learn about the life cycle of the cicada through discussion, craft and a story. Reservations required. Cancelled if rain. $3.