One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An American cicada whose nymphs emerge from the soil in large numbers periodically. The mature nymphs of the northern species (seventeen-year locust) emerge every seventeen years; those of the southern species emerge every thirteen years. A cicada brood can be so abundant that the shrill sound emitted by the males can damage the human ear.
- ‘The bugs belong to the largest group, or brood, of periodical cicadas - insects that spend most of their lives as nymphs, burrowed underground and sucking sap from tree roots.’
- ‘The fact that periodical cicadas emerge after a prime number of years could be just a coincidence.’
- ‘But the lack of a viable predator control of the periodical cicadas doesn't mean the periodical cicadas have no predators, or no effect on their predators' lives.’
- ‘It is not known how periodical cicadas synchronize their life cycles over 13 or 17 years - or how they manage to count out the years.’
- ‘This year, thirteen-year cicadas will appear in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois, and seventeen-year cicadas will show up in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.’
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