17 year cicada – chance or design?

A news piece about 17 year cicadas caught my eye. I paused to scan the article.

Colossal numbers of cicadas, unhurriedly growing underground since 1996, are about to emerge along much of the U.S. East Coast to begin passionately singing and mating as their remarkable life cycle restarts.

It appears we may be spared the cacophonous evening serenades of this particular cicada (until 2024 and again in 2025 ) but places East of us won’t be so fortunate.

This year heralds the springtime emergence of billions of so-called 17-year periodical cicadas, with their distinctive black bodies, buggy red eyes, and orange-veined wings, along a roughly 900-mile stretch from northern Georgia to upstate New York.

Black bodies? Buggy red eyes?  Orange-veined wings?  Freaky!  It’s good they measure only 1.5-inch (38-mm) – imagine the impact (visual and otherwise) they would make if they were 5.9 inches (15 cm) long like the tropical species Pomponia imperatoria from Malaysia.

It appears, according to the article, that central Connecticut will host “particularly dense concentrations of so-called Brood II cicadas, named Magicicada septendecim.” Expected arrival?  Sometime in late May or June.

Interesting facts about Magicicada septendecim can be found here and below.

  • Their arrival is precisely timed – every 17 years.
  • Juveniles slowly develop underground, emerging as adults.
  • Mature males “sing” to attract mates.
  • They emerge suddenly, as though awakened at the same time.
  • The exoskeletons (hard outer shell) are left behind (on sides of trees, houses, bushes, car tires) when the winged adults emerge through a slit in the back.
  • Population per acre is higher than with any other cicada species – up to 1.5 million per acre.
  • Male cicadas use ribbed tymbal membranes on their abdomens to produce sound – females click or snap their wings.
  • Though a bit freaky to look at, they do not bite or sting.
  • Commonly mislabeled “locusts, they are not harmful to crops.
  • Damage to young/small trees and shrubs (as well as fruit trees) can occur if too many feed on them, or lay eggs on them.
  • Eggs hatch later in the summer and the nymphs drop to the ground, where they dig in to begin the next 17 year cycle.
  • While underground, juvenile cicadas feed on root fluid.
  • Maturing juveniles build tunnels to the surface.
  • When soil temperature rises above 64 degrees F (18 C), they crawl from the tunnels and up the side of whatever is nearby (usually a tree/bush).
  • It is only after they are above ground that they start their final molt which results in their emergence as winged adults.

The final paragraph of the article is what set my wheels in motion and prompted me to write this.

Every 17th year, a few weeks before emerging, the cicadas build exit tunnels to the surface. When the soil temperature exceeds 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius), nymphs leave their burrows usually after sunset, settle on a nearby tree or shrub, and start their final molt to adulthood.

I am amazed by the intricate workings of the life cycle of the simple cicada.

To me, this is proof of the existence of a Creator.  I have tried to look at this from the thought/idea/world view of evolution…that it just happened by chance. But, I cannot.  The more I study…the more I learn…the more I am drawn to evidence of design. And, if there is a design – there must be a Designer.

And, if a Designer…then a purpose as well.


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