Today’s installment of the EnvIowa podcast features an interview recorded Feb. 7 with Dr. Andrew Forbes, an evolutionary ecologist at in University of Iowa biology department. Forbes chats about the ecological importance of parasitic insects and shares insights about other creepy crawlies like emerald ash borers and periodical cicadas.
Listen to learn more about his work on insect diversity and speciation.
This week’s On the Radio segment explores the life of the 17-year cicada, which is emerging again in Iowa after almost two decades underground. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.
After spending the last 17 years burrowed underground, the noisy yet harmless cicada will grace Iowa with its presence this summer.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
During the warm summer months, the sun heats the soil, which coaxes these red-eyed insects to emerge. The cicadas pose little threat to plant life as they feed off sap and also do not bite or sting humans or other animals.
Cicadas – which are the oldest living insect in North America – generally live in native woodlands and can be found across Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.
Cicadas will emerge for about four or five weeks, during which time they will search for a mate. The male cicadas will “sing” a mating call from late morning to early afternoon.
With population densities as high as 1.5 million cicadas per acre, the mating call can reach incredibly high noise levels. After finding a mate and laying as many as 600 eggs, the cicadas will begin to die off and won’t be seen again for another 17 years.
For more information about the cicadas visit IowaEnvironmentalFocus.org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.
The warm winter could mean an increase in pests this spring in Iowa. Some pests that normally freeze during the winter did not, and therefore bugs are appearing earlier than usual.
Some farmers are worried about the increase in pests. Consequently, some are planning to spray their crops with pesticide earlier this year than they otherwise would.
On the other hand, some entomologist argue that there will be little difference in the number of pests this spring because some insects need snow cover to survive the winter – many of these insects likely did not survive the mild winter.
Read more about this spring’s pest projections from the Des Moines Register here.