Brood X Magicicada Day 2
News Category: Cicada Missions
Brood X Magicicada Day 2
Saturday started off rainy and cold. The cicadas surely wouldn't be chorusing today. We decided to still attend the estate auction. Darius and I arrived fairly early and picked a good parking spot. The estate auction was advertised in the local news papers so a big crowd was expected.
Darius and I decided to scout around to see if there would be anything of interest. We took a walk in the back woods and spotted the car that he was interested in. A 1965 Chevy Corvair. He's only interested in this car because a work colleague of his is really into them. He was thinking of purchasing this car and offering it as trade for a car motor for his Baja Volkswagon Beetle that his work colleague said he'd build for him free of charge.
In the back woods there were a ton of rotted-out junked cars every where. When we spotted the Corvair in the woods, it was in really bad shape. That was to be expected and Darius really didn't seem to be concerned. He used his cell phone and called his work colleague, described the condition of the car and asked him how much his maximum bid should be.
"Don't go any more than forty bucks.", the work colleague on the phone stated.
Heading back towards the house we could see that it was really starting to fill up and bidders were in line registering. While Darius stood in line, I walked around in the hopes of finding something I'd be interested in. I found out that the family consisted of a husband, wife and 3 girls. Looking through boxes of items to be auctioned, I found many toys but there was nothing that I was really interested in.
Some of Darius' relatives and friends began to show up. He introduced me as his brother-in-law and told everyone that I drove all the way from Massachusetts to see the locusts. Yes, they all referred to the Periodical Cicadas as locusts and I had no intentions of correcting them.
They all looked at me good naturedly and stated I was crazy and that I could take them all back with me if I wanted to. I just stood back and smiled. People from the South are very social and down to earth and I truly enjoy being here. They're so friendly and laid-back. Not like here in Massachusetts where everyone is conservative and always on the go. No one ever really takes time to "smell the roses" as it were.
Darius' nephew Michael and his wife Carey and step-son Noah arrived. I knew Michael from previous visists and is a real great person. I met Carey and Noah for the first time at the auction.
"Hey man, what brings you here?" Michael asked.
"He drove here from Massacusetts to see the locusts." Darius said.
"You like them?" he asked. "They're something aren't they?"
I smiled and nodded my head in agreement.
At this time the rain really started coming down. It's a good thing that I had my trusty Boston Celtics umbrella. I offered to share it with Michael's wife Carey who looked totally miserable standing in the rain. The auction started and we all headed back into the woods. The auctioneer was going to start the auction with the junked cars there. When it was time to bid on the Corvair, Darius bid the suggested $40.00 and went without any other bidders. Unfortunately though, the owner of the car had a reserve on it so the car ended up not being sold.
Walking back towards the house, Michael's step-son Noah walked up to me and said, "Hey, you wanna see sumthin'?"
He reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a M. septendecim cicada. Surprisingly, it was still alive. Thinking that he only knew it as a locust like his parents I said, "Wow! That sure is a neat locust. May I see it?"
"It's not a locust.", he corrected as he handed it to me. "It's a Cicada."
"You're absolutely right and it's a female."
"What's a female?"
"It's a girl cicada."
"How can you tell?" Not wanting to get into how the female has an ovipositor just beneath its abdomen and not having a male cicada handy so we could compare the difference between the two I merely said. "Well, if you had a male cicada, it would be making all kinds of noise, sort of like a buzzing alarm and the females don't make any noise at all. That's how you can tell."
I handed it back to him and he promptly stuck it back in his pocket. As we were walking back, I explained the lifecycle of the Magicicada to him and he was quite facinated.
We stood around at the auction for several hours but neither Darius nor I purchased anything. We were getting cold and wet and decided to head back to Darius' place.
Once there we explained the events at the auction to my sister who didn't come with us. Just then Darius got a phone call from a woman in Frederick Maryland stating that she was willing to sell him her 1965 Chevy Corvair that her husband had sitting in their garage since the 1980's. Apparently Darius' had his eye on this Corvair for a very long time and had been trying to get in touch with the woman for several weeks to inquire if it was for sale. When she said she might be willing to let it go for $200.00, he jumped at the chance.
I offered to go with him to help him put it on his trailor and that cinched it. He called her back and said we should be there in an hour. After getting directions off we went.
I wanted to go to Frederick Maryland to see if there were any cicadas there. Unfortunately, the woman with the Corvair lived in a new developement so there were no cicadas really apparent. After nearly cleaning out her garage to get to the Corvair and after standing around shooting the breeze, we finally got the Corvair on the trailer and we were off back to West Virginia.
Once back at my sister's place, it was time to start thinking about going home the next day. I decided that I would collect some specimens for the return trip to Massachusetts in order to snap better photos and to do some observations in a controlled environment.
It was really cold, rainy and miserable outside. The cicadas were really quite lethargic and were easy to catch. I did notice that a lot of the cicadas seemed to be infected with the fungal parasite Massospora cicadina. It's a fungal infection that becomes active once the Cicada emerges from the ground and eventually causes their abdomens to pop exposing a white chalky substance within and leaving the Magicicada sterile. I did notice that even some of the cicadas with this affliction and with partially missing abdomens, were still alive. I wonder if cicadas or any insects for that matter can feel pain. I collected approximately 20 specimens mostly M. septendecims but I also collected a few M. septendeculas both male and female. I could only obtain a large coffee cup with a lid as a specimen container for the journey home.