When I was studying cicadas in New Mexico, I thought that the big buzzy insects did not occur in the northwestern US. A friend pointed out that I was wrong and the next time I visited Oregon in the summer, I heard the thin buzz of cicadas. They are here, but they are smaller, emerge in lower densities, and are not as loud as the ones found in the southern and eastern parts of the country. After a few years of searching, I found a site where there are male cicadas buzzing loud enough that they are not drowned out by song sparrow and Bewick’s wren songs. It is also the only place where I have found signs of emergence.
The place is Shute Park in Hillsboro. It is located near our Subaru dealership, so I checked it out today after getting an oil change. The park has dozens of large conifers, many of which are native to the area, and a closed canopy. During the month of June the place is buzzing with cicadas, likely of the genus Okanagana.
I found at least a dozen exuvia (shed exoskelotons) stuck to this small spruce tree.
A previous generation likely laid eggs near the tips of the branches, from which the tiny young fell after hatching. The youngsters buried themselves under the tree and fed on fluid they sucked from the roots.
After a few years, they crawled out of the ground, climbed the trunk of their tree, emerged from their old skin, stretched their new wings, and flew off in search of mates.
I did not see any adults, which are black and orange, but heard plenty of males singing in the canopy. I’ll have to return earlier in the morning if I want to see any newly emerged individuals, so for now I will settle for the shells.
In other news, I am back to work on my Forest Service-funded research. Next week is the American Ornithologists Union meeting in Portland. It will be a reunion of sorts because I will get to see many friends from previous research projects in North and South America. I will be presenting a poster with results from my analyses of hummingbird and mourning dove nest survival data.
The poster is printed out and ready to go, but I am not going to take it out of the tube and look at it until I put it up, for fear of spotting a typo that would drive me nuts.