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Beware Brood XIX Zombie Cicadas!

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Beware Brood XIX Zombie Cicadas!

Beware Brood XIX Zombie Cicadas!

These Brood XIX periodical cicada will take their stylets and instead of tapping into xylem, they will tap into your skull and suck out your brains!!! Just kidding. Like their red-eyed counter-parts they are just as harmless. But these cicadas with the milky white eyes; (sometimes also blue or grey) are actually quite rare as far as periodical cicadas go.

These cicadas differ greatly from the normal red-eyed - orange wing veined variety by their shockingly light eyes and white costal-margin veins. They do kind of remind one of zombies with those glazed-over corneas.

How rare are they?

Red-eyed MagicicadaWhile statistical numbers for white-eyed magicicadas differs among whom you talk to, some say one in 150,000 cicadas and others say one in 1,000,000 cicadas. Either way, if you happen to find one consider yourself very lucky.

So, Why White Eyes?

Another good question. While no one has really done testing to narrow the cause, it is believed that its most likely due to a recessive gene that controls the pigmentation in periodical cicadas that gives them their reddish-orange eyes and reddish-orange wing veins. Determining the recessive gene would require that first you find one of these rare specimens and then put it through a battery of tests which would no-doubt require DNA testing. The whole process is cost-prohibitive and the end result probably wouln't add much to the knowledge and science of periodical cicadas.

White-eyed Magicicada FemaleIn 2008 during the Brood XIV emergence on Cape Cod, I was very lucky in finding not just one example but two. A male and female specimen of the species known as M. septendecim. Unfortunately, I found them one week apart and while it would've been cool to have them mate thus increasing the odds of their progeny being white-eyed zombie cicadas (since both parents had the recessive gene trate), I let the female mate with the common red-eyed variety and the white-eyed male found a week later, was used in experiments with the US Navy.

The white-eyed female did successfully oviposit in a live branch though a few weeks later. Let's hope that the the female's genes are the dominant ones to carry on this trate. I won't hold out too much hope though, waiting another 14 years is a very long time.

If you happen to find one of these rare cicadas, we'd love to hear from you. Please fill in the Report Brood XIX Periodical Cicadas online form complete with photos. We will post them in our Cicada Sightings section.

Date Posted: 2011-05-24 Comments: (0) Show CommentsHide Comments


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