Dark night covers the forest with the breeze slowly wagging the leaves. Millions of male Cicadas cluster together on the tree trunks with their masculine songs reaching the bourne of the forest. Male Cicadas call out their female counterparts with their mating noise. The buzz that lasts for one second is repeated periodically for the females to be directed. Female ready to mate, acknowledge by ticking the wings. Soon the partners meet and science gets into action. After mating, eggs are laid by the females on the trunks. Soon they hatch as nymphs and feed the juice from the tree, under the protection of their mother. Females die or get eaten overtime but not the eggs unless noted. Days pass by and the nymphs crawl down the trunk towards the ground. Group of nymphs reach the ground and dig inside tracing the roots. Young nymphs feed on the roots of the grasses and mature nymphs on the tree roots. They spend all their life digging and feeding on the sap of roots.
As they spend their lives underground, they have special ability in calculating the years of earth life. From the time they enter the ground, they wait for 13 years (Some 17 years) to complete until they are fully grown. One fine night, these adults crawl towards the ground where they emerge as full grown nymph without wings, forming broods. Within minutes, hundreds, thousands, millions of nymph emerge from the ground. They all crawl on the tree to reach the top. During the journey, they shed the exoskeleton to emerge as a Cicada with wet wings. As night turns into day, their wings are dried and ready to make their flight. Then the mating call starts and the cycle repeats itself.
Enough about science. The most interesting part that remains unanswered is their years of emergence. How does Cicada calculate the earth years? While this has been a mystery, when they emerge in 13 or 17th year, it has been predicted that the population of birds will decline right before their emergence. How can they be related? While there are many postulates and theories from ecologists and biologists, some believe that the Cicada’s prediction of the life duration of their predators are rooted in their broods. Every living creature has instinctive behavior in transferring the legacy. We want our lives to extend through our kids. We cannot leave them endangered. How can we protect them? These little insects have lived through millions of ages figuring the pattern of their predators.
They grew their ability to live longer by staying underground. They adapted to feeding on the roots underground. But nature made a limitation to mate only above the ground. This limitation had them to emerge at one point. If they surfaced after a year of their entry into the ground, they were eaten by most of the predators. If they surfaced after two years, they were again eaten by all of the predators. If they surfaced after three years, they were again eaten. They had to execute it every year and managed to survive only a few out of the total coming out.
Cicada’s are known to be fed by birds, squirrels, most of the animals you can find in the Kingdom of Timon and Pumba. Each of these animals have their own breeding cycle. Their life cycle is also different. Let us take for example they live for 2 years, some 3 years and some 6 years. Now look at these numbers 2,3,6. How do they relate to numbers 13 and 17? Let’s say Cicadas and predators are formed on earth at the same time. Animals with 2,3,6 yrs lifecycle may not find the Cicada brood emergence during their last stages of life. Let’s assume they all breed and offspring emerge just before their previous generation goes down. On 13th year, the animals that were born through their previous generations will be alive, ready to feed the cicada. But the predators would be in their middle ages with less feeding capacity than their full adults. This has improved the chances of female Cicadas surviving more than if they had emerged a few years earlier.
Cicada’s ancestor generations would have spent years contemplating the birds life cycle. It still remains a mystery on how the Cicadas predict the predators population, especially their main predators that they had adapted to escape from. Periodic cicadas, so they are called, emerge every 13 or 17 years. Secret could be Mathematics. 13 being prime number is not divisible by 2, 3 or 6. They understood their predators life and adapted to live long. But it could not completely negate the effect of being eaten. Predators gorge these tasty Cicadas which happens only once in their lifetime. Though eaten, millions manage to survive. Feed the predators more so that they stop feeding further. This has been their tactic in overrunning the predators. Then the predators are no longer called so and live on their own without caring the Cicadas buzz. This way they outnumber the predators and their purpose of emergence is fulfilled.
Some of the science (Or mathematics as many believe) is still open ended, so considering them fictional is valid. Which predator did the Cicadas actually adapted to? How do they count ages? Why 13 and 17 was chosen while there are other prime numbers?
If the years of calculation by periodic Cicada is fictional, why would the birds population decline when they are about to emerge? Experiments remain unanswered but the behavior of periodical Cicada is beyond the facts as of today and I consider them to behave fictional until proven with facts.
Life of Cicada would have inspired the Cicada 3301 group which made their puzzles online in Reddit and 4chan. Their puzzles and stages of clues remain a mystery without any evidence of their identity. When I heard about Cicada 3301 for the first time, I guessed 3301 should be a prime number and it was actually a prime. The series of puzzles and clues of this enigmatic group led to different ends but the final destination remains a secret.