Sunday, June 3, 2018

Periodical Cicada Transplant

Magicicada septendecim on a gooseberry in the UConn EEB Greenhouse garden, Storrs, Ct. June 1, 2018.
 Back in the spring of 2001, John Cooley and Dave Marshall of the Simon lab at the University of Connecticut collected some periodical cicadas in upstate New York and brought them back to the EEB department's research garden at UConn. Apparently, some of those cicadas laid eggs, and the nymphs developed on the roots of some small red oak trees in the garden, because now, 17 years later, cicadas are emerging in the garden.

Magicicada septendecim, shed exoskeleton of nymph on a raspberry bush.
These cicadas are from brood VII, from the Finger Lakes region of New York, now restricted to the Onondaga Nation but formerly with a larger range. Chris Simon reports that the New York population started emerging on May 31, the exact same day as the transplanted cicadas in the garden at UConn. Maybe 20 or so cicadas have emerged at UConn, and mostly flown off around campus. I haven't heard them calling, but I'll keep an ear out, and watch for signs that they are reproducing, like "flagging" on the branches of the local trees. It strikes me as unlikely that a new population could establish itself from maybe a few dozen insects, but I guess we'll have a better idea in 2035.