Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021 - 11

C R E AT U R E F E AT U R E

and fall into the soil, where they
feed underground on the roots
for the next 17 years. They don't
stray far, so if the tree dies, they
do too.
" Every time we denude a
forest, there go all the periodical cicadas from that area, " says
Hinkle.
It's difficult to assess exactly
where the highest concentrations live in the Blue Ridge
region, simply because they so seldom appear.
" There really are only a half-dozen people in the whole
United States that are actually working on periodical cicadas, " Hinkle says. " It's hard to have a career when you
can only do something every 17 years. "
So what exactly prompts these unusual bugs to come
out of hiding?
" No one has actually confirmed how they know that, "
Hinkle admits. " The prevalent theory is that somehow
they can calculate when the trees lose their leaves and
they know that's been a year. Somehow, way down underground, the nymphs are able to count that, so they

know when 17 years have passed.
But that is the great mystery. "
Most people take the rare invasion in stride but, if it really bugs
you, Hinkle jokingly suggests " a
vacation west of the Mississippi
River because there will not be
any of them there. "
Better yet, she says, " For people who are just squeamish: Get
over it. This is a wonderful natural phenomenon, especially if you have children. This is a great opportunity to
introduce them to the marvels of nature. Nothing compares to it. "
And when engaged couples call her department and
ask if their outdoor May weddings will be upstaged by the
sound of periodical cicadas, she encourages them to go
for it anyway.
" I think that's the most romantic thing in the world.
Think about it. You're getting married with the song of cicadas all around you. Every 17 years, when you celebrate
your anniversary, they are there to remind you of your
perpetual love. "

EEO/AA Employer
MAY/JUNE 2021

11


http://www.wvculture.org/museum/State-Museum-Index.html

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021

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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2021 - BRPG1
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