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17 Year Cicada

Magicicada septendecim
There are a handful of Cicacads known as "periodicals," and the 17 Year is the largest and most northern living of the group.

These insects get their name from their long and unusual life cycle. For seventeen years you will never see them. The entire population will live underground as Juveniles, and then all at once they emerge as adults to breed and start the cycle over. And interestingly, though they live nearly two decades as juveniles, their adult life lasts only a few weeks-- just long enough to breed and lay eggs.

The timing of the cycle depends on the specific population. For example, one brood near by home state appeared way back in 2002, while another was more recent in 2007. One of the New England broods is even scheduled for 2013. People in North America have been tracking these Cicadas since 1715!

Unfortunately, their long reproductive cycle puts them in conservation trouble. If something were to happen to a brood it could be totally disastrous. For this reason they are listed as Near Threatened.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : North America
Size : Length up to 1.5in (4cm)
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Insecta -- Order : Hemiptera
Family : Cicadidae -- Genus : Magicicada -- Species : M. septendecim
Image : Martin Hauser

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