I don’t know how bad they are by you, but by us I’m beginning to think the Cicada swarms are all or nothing depending where in Jersey you live.

For some North Jerseyans, the 17-year cicada emergence has hit with a vengeance. But for others, it’s as if the strange bugs never existed.

It’s boom or bust. The bugs have appeared by the tens of thousands in some neighborhoods of Tenafly and Englewood, in Palisades Interstate Park, and among the lake communities in Wayne.

Residents of other towns — from Ridgewood and Lyndhurst to Ramsey and Clifton – say they have neither seen nor heard any cicadas. Many who have braced for the onslaught are hopeful that, indeed, they may have been spared the nuisance.

And that is entirely possible.

Part of the reason could be changes in land use since the last invasion.
Rutgers University entomologist George Hamilton says that while they are underground, cicadas need the liquids that flow through tree roots to survive. But when trees are cut down, they lose their food source, and since they are stuck under the soil, they can’t move to find a new source of nutrition. The cicadas’ presence “all depends on how much development has occurred and how many trees have been cut down since the last emergence,”

Chris Simon, a cicada expert at the University of Connecticut, is asking people to report their cicada sightings this time around on her website, magicicada.org, so that she can map the emergence for future generations.

“The cicadas were still coming out on Sunday on Staten Island and metro New Jersey, so in North Jersey I suspect that the emergence still has a ways to go,” said Simon. “Don’t give up hope for large emergences.”

This new generation of cicadas – known as Brood II – hatched from eggs back in 1996, dropped to the ground, burrowed a foot or two down, and sucked on tree roots since then. Now, they are popping out of their exoskeletons, heading to the tops of trees, mating, laying the next generation of eggs, and dying – all within about five weeks.

The new eggs will hatch this summer and the baby cicadas – no larger that a grain of rice – will not be seen again until 2030.

So as I do the math, given that I’m 61 now, and judging by the obituary columns I read (yes, I’m a crepe hanger); should I live to be 88, I’ll be going into the ground by the time they’ll be coming out.

Sort of like passing ships in the night!

By the way, if you’re like me, a “doubting Thomas” when it comes to the invasion of cicadas, check out this video sent to morning man Jim Gearhart the other day:

Correction: Since my math sucks big time, I was reminded by Posse member Bea that I'll be 78, not 88 by the time they're ready to come out. Thanks Bea, I'm still laughing!