Tips (and Recipes) for the Cicada Invasion

BY Jenny Marder  April 2, 2013 at 2:12 PM EST

Swarms of cicada nymphs emerge from the ground. Photo by Michael Raupp.

On Friday, we wrote about the impending arrival of the 17-year cicadas — the root sucking, egg laying, battery-sized bugs that will emerge from the earth en masse around Memorial Day and emit a chorus of mating sounds louder than a lawnmower.

We will cover them eagerly as they climb out from the soil and commence disrupting our sleep. But in the meantime, I wanted to point you to some fun cicada-themed activities and events.

Radiolab has teamed with WNYC to launch a major citizen science project to track the Brood 2 cicadas. The cicada nymphs will emerge when the soil reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. This site tells you how to build your own homemade $80 detector to predict their arrival. It even has a step-by-step assembly guide. (You can also buy a soil thermometer.) People have been asked to mark their detectors on this map, and update when they detect 64 degree Fahrenheit soil.

This National Geographic site has audio of cicada calls, quick facts and a visual of the insect’s size relative to a paper clip.

And this site has tips on how to cook cicadas — they’re said to be “crispy and crunchy, with a nutty, almondlike, flavor.”

“The best time to eat cicadas,” it reads, “is just after the nymphs break open their skin and before the exoskeleton turns hard. They are best harvested in the cool of the morning when the insects are more sluggish. Experienced gatherers focus on the adult females, each of which can contain up to 600 nutritious eggs.”

Here are some recipes from the University of Maryland. Includes recipes for “Cicada Dumplings,” “Cicada Stir Fry” and “Sizzling Chili Cicadas.”

Plus, if you live near New York, the Staten Island Museum has a cicada exhibition through Spring 2014.

For more information, check out www.magicicada.org and Cicada Mania.

QUICK BITES

“When setting off to feed on other flying insects,” she writes, “dragonflies manage to snatch their targets in midair more than 95 percent of the time, often wolfishly consuming the fresh meat on the spur without bothering to alight.”

  • Science on the runway: PopSci looks at how a fashionista uses fossils, insect shells and real meteorites in his designs.

  • The Knight Science Journalism Tracker has this interesting write-up on allegations of plagiarism and errors in Jane Goodall new book.

  • The Bad Astronomer’s Phil Plait has this amazing video taken on Engineering Open House day at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign last month. This is their demo of how much pressure it takes to crush a concrete cylinder. The results, the video promises, are startling.


NOT SAFE FOR LUNCH

Rebecca Jacobson, Patti Parson and David Pelcyger contributed to this report.

Video credit: A cicada emerges from the soil. Video by Michael Raupp.