Tammy Irvine, http://www.rearviewstudio.com

Big, loud, and astonishingly clumsy, periodical cicadas dally underground for nearly their entire long lives (17 or sometimes 13 years) and then emerge all at once by the millions, in May, when the soil has warmed to the mid-60s. The males form choruses in the trees, belting out love songs loud enough to damage human hearing. Each female selects just one troubadour, mates, and lays her eggs in twigs; then all the adults die. The process takes only three or four weeks. The eggs hatch and juveniles fall to the ground, where they burrow down and feed on tree root sap. Then, 13 or 17 years later, nymphs arise from their soil chimneys, molt, and begin the cycle once more.

Worldwide there are about 3,000 cicada species. Many emerge in the spring, but only seven species in the Eastern United States belong to entomology's most felicitously named...

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