After Torrential Rains, A Chorus Of Brood X Cicadas At Nockamixon State Park
The Brood X cicadas have been making the evening news almost every day now . The Brood X hatch is especially large in the southern states and the Washington D.C. area. And they are not discriminating who they fly into too. News reporters, politicians and even the President have had collisions with these insects. These periodical cicada hatches are an amazing natural phenomena. Each of the approximately 15 periodical cicada broods hatch every 17 years. I was so fortunate and happy to sees so many of them last week in southern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
I was told by a friend there were a lot of the Brood X cicadas in Nockamixon State Park. It is located in Bucks County in Southeastern Pennsylvania, about a two hour drive from my home in Luzerne County. I was never there before and decided to visit Friday afternoon. I forgot to check the weather forecast before I left. I should have. When I arrived at the Park around 3 p.m. it was pouring rain. The forecast called for the rains to stop around 6 p.m. so I decided to stay overnight and checked into the Springhill Suites in nearby Quakertown. Well I drove to the park around 6 p.m. and the rains didn’t stop. They were torrential, as they had been the last three hours. The local creeks were flooding. I walked in the rain to the lake and realized there was no way I was seeing any cicadas in this weather.
So I left the park drove back to Quakertown looking for a place to eat. And I found McCoole’s at the Historic Red Lion Inn. What a wonderful experience. Built in 1750’s it had a long and interesting history and awesome food. A very brief summary of the history of the place is as follows. The Liberty Bell was once across the street, as were gallows built to hang members of a rebellion in 1790, (they were pardoned by President Adams) and Lassie was created here. Yep, I sat in the famous Lassie seat. You can read more about in in the link I provided above.
It was my first visit to the park so I was unfamiliar with the roads and trails. I parked in a lot near the swimming pool and began my hike in search of the Brood X cicadas. I was told that there were a lot of them along the Old Mill Trail.
Leaving the lake I followed a few more trails through the park. I didn’t see any cicadas but L heard some their buzzing and whirling sounds in the distance. I think the torrential rains had washed many of the cicadas off the lower branches. And the cool temperature, it was only around 55 degrees, may have also affected the cicadas activity .
There was also a lot of honeysuckles growing along the trail. The Japanese honeysuckle was in bloom. It is invasive but the wonderful, heavenly fragrance of these white and yellow flowers filled the morning air.
The trail led into an older, thicker maple and oak forest. Here I could hear the buzzing and whirling of the cicadas in the distance. However I still wasn’t finding any of the noise makers along the trail.
It was here I started not only to hear, but to see, the Brood X cicadas. There were dozens of them on the leaves of trees and shrubs along the trail. And overhead you could hear the drumming mating call of the males and near the ground the shrill calls of the cicadas in distress.
I picked up a couple of the critters. I think, for insects, they are pretty cute. I love their big bulging red eyes. Here is a video I uploaded to my YouTube channel of one of the cute critters. https://youtu.be/WuBI1LRdnNg
There were quite a few of these insects along the trail. And there were also remains of their exoskeletons. These insects crawl from their underground homes, where they have lived for 17 years, as nymphs.
The nymphs discard their exoskeletons and transform into the cute big eyed insects. There are a number of different broods that hatch every 17 years. This is Brood X and I believe this is as about as far north as this brood hatches.
After hiking back down to the lake, and seeing an osprey, I returned to the area I saw the cicadas. The strong June sun broke through the clouds and quickly dried the rain soaked vegetation, and , I believe the cicadas too. There were now hundreds of them on the leaves of trees and plants along the trail.
Here is another video, of the now active cicadas, I uploaded to my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/WJkMGvrytL8
I watched and listened to these interesting insects as the continued to get more active, and louder. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the Brood X cicadas I saw on my hike. Nockamixon State Park hike cicadas June 12 2021.
After observing the cicadas I followed the Old Mill Trail through open field. Here I found this swallow nest box that was occupied. I watched the swallows and then continued my hike through the field.
I left the field and walked back to the parking lot where I left my Jeep and finished my six mile hike. I wanted to stay longer but I had to check out of my hotel by 11 a.m. I was going to drive back to the park, , but clouds moved in and it looked like some more rain was on the way. So I left Bucks County, and the cicadas. I hope to visit them at least one more time before they mate and die in a few weeks.. If I am not able to, I will have to wait until 2030, when Brood II will hatch in my area. I hope all of you get a chance to see these interesting insects. They are another amazing part of the natural world we our still blessed to enjoy here in Pennsylvania. Here is a link to another gallery with photographs from my hike. Nockamixon State Park hike June 12 2021.
Cicadas sang madly from the trees. It was so impossibly summer. – Author: Maggie Stiefvater