genus Magicicada (Brood XIV) - (Great Smoky Mountains NP)

Share My Admiration for the Periodical Cicada

I’ve always felt a special fondness for the remarkable Periodical Cicada (genus Magicicada). The life history of this small critter is compelling with populations only appearing to us at 13 year or 17 year intervals. In May of 2008, I was fortunate to have witnessed the emergence of the 17-Year Periodical Cicada. They were identified as “Magicicada Brood XIV”. Over a period of days they struggled free of their casings, and unfurled, stretched and dried their transparent wings. The haunting yet beautiful chorus of the males was nearly deafening and it seemed impossible that such volume could be produced.* As I stood among the winged insects, with many finding me a suitable perch from which to sing out, I found myself thoroughly captivated.

Recently, I came across an astonishing documentary film by Samuel Orr on the 17-Year Periodical Cicada. At the same time, I also learned of his Kickstarter project “Return of the Cicadas” fundraising effort. Join me won’t you in helping Samuel reach his Periodical Cicada film funding goal? To learn more about how you can support this project, please go here.

The sensitivity and elegance of this piece by Samuel is truly exquisite!



*Unlike many other species of insects which create music by rubbing one body part against another, cicadas actual have specific song-producing body parts called “tymbals”. By “playing” (contracting and relaxing tiny muscles causing the attached membranes to resonate), “song” is produced.

Photo Title: 17 Year Cicada (genus Magicicada, Brood XIV) in a Pine Tree – (Great Smoky Mountains NP)