Spring Warmup Brings Cicadas, Frogs and Worms

By By Vickie Frantz, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
April 26, 2013, 4:53:30 PM EDT

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April means temperatures rise, rain replaces snow and all kinds of living creatures begin to emerge.

17-Year Cicadas

It is once again time for the 17-year cicadas to emerge from the ground. "The cicadas will emerge in the beginning of May where there is rich, moist soil," said Greg Hoover Senior Extension Associate Ornamental Entomologist at The Pennsylvania State University.

Once they emerge as nymphs, they will feed on phylum cells on the roots of trees until they develop into adults capable of mating, Hoover said.

These are the offspring of cicadas that emerged in 1996. They will make their way up from deep below the ground when the soil temperature reaches about 64.5 degrees at least 8 inches down. "Thermal soil temperature is one of the things that trigger their emergence, along with a gentle to moderate rainfall," said Hoover.

These cicadas are of the genus Magiciada. They are periodical cicadas from Brood II, according to cicada researcher Dan Mozgai. Mozgai runs the cicadiamania website.

Mozgai first became interested in cicadas following the emergence of Brood II in 1996. He has been researching the 17- and 13-year cicadas ever since.

They can be recognized by their red eyes, black bodies and orange wing veins. The cicadas will appear in the states of Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

"Once the cicadas emerge, they only have a lifespan of two to three weeks," Mozgai said. Lives of cicadas can be shortened by the effects of wind and rain on their bodies. Those whose bodies are deformed by the weather won't live as long as the ones who develop normally, he said.

Mature cicadas will mate and the female will make a slit in a tree branch and lay her eggs inside. This can be damaging to young trees. Homeowners can protect their small trees by placing garden netting over them. Foil wrapped around tree trunks can also keep the cicadas from climbing up the tree.

"Larger trees may experience some dead branches due to the cicadas," Mozgai said. "But they are generally strong enough to survive with a few dead branches."

After a few weeks filled with the sound of cicadas in all the trees, they will die and it will be 17 more years before brood II will be seen again.

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EarthwormsAfter a hard rain, it is not uncommon to see earthworms in the streets and on the sidewalks. There are a few different theories as to why this occurs. The common thought was that worms escaped to the surface to avoid drowning in their water-filled holes following a heavy rain.

Now, a few other ideas about their after-rain appearance have surfaced. Migration is a possibility. Dr. Chris Lowe, Lecturer in Waste and Environmental Management at University of Central Lancashire in Preston, United Kingdom, told AccuWeather Staff Writer Samantha-Rae Tuthill, "It gives them an opportunity to move greater distances across the soil surface than they could do through soil. They cannot do this when it is dry because of their moisture requirements."

Professor Josef Gorres of the University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science told Tuthill that it's possible they surface due to the vibration the rain makes as it hits the ground. The vibrations could be similar to vibrations made by moles. This could cause the worms to flee to the surface to avoid being eaten.


Spring Peepers

Another sure sign of spring is the sound of spring peepers chirping away in ponds, lakes and streams.

These tiny frogs can make a lot of noise as the males call out in search of a mate, then 800 to 1,000 eggs are laid singly or in small clusters on a stick or vegetation that is submerged in water. The eggs hatch in three to five days. They mature and the frogs go into a partly frozen hibernation until spring, according to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History website.

Each spring, when the weather warms, the peepers call out and the mating begins again.

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