My First Encounter With Brood X At Kings Gap State Park.

My First Encounter With Brood X At Kings Gap State Park.

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I’m sure many of you, living on the East Coast, have  been hearing about Brood X and the 17 year appearance of these  cicadas this year.  Well,  this past Sunday I wanted  to get away for a couple of days. I also wanted to observe some of these interesting insects, so I headed to Kings Gap State Park in Cumberland County.  

I was aware of numerous cicada sightings here from an app I had installed on my iPhone. I had never visited this park before and took the 2 hour drive from my home in Luzerne County Sunday afternoon. It was overcast when I arrived in Carlisle  and checked into the Holiday Inn Express. I than drove twenty minutes up the long. winding and wooded mountainside to the Cameron-Masland Mansion that is the centerpiece of the lovely state park.

Unfortunately, it was raining and a chilly 47 degrees when I arrived. I had on shorts and a hoodie. I was cold but it didn’t stop me from a quick exploration around  the impressive mansion  and short hike on one of the trails. 

The stone mansion was impressive. It was erected as a summer home in 1908. The views, even on this cloudy and cold day were  spectacular. It overlooked the Cumberland valley to the south and west.  

After taking in the view I walked on the grounds of the mansion. I  walked past  the old water tank, 

and came to the beautifully maintained flower garden. 

Even in the rain the gardens were beautiful. Irises, 

foxglove,

roses and a multitude of other flowers were in bloom.  

And it was here in the garden where I encountered my first member of Brood X. 

Nearby was the  discarded exoskeleton of the cicada nymph that left it’s  17 year underground burrow.  It crawled  to a safe height and  emerged as a winged cicada ready to mate, reproduce and die in the next few weeks.  The eggs laid by the female hatch and the young nymphs borrow back in the ground. They feed off the roots of trees and repeat the cycle 17 year from now. I was disappointed that this was the only cicada I saw in the garden or on the grounds. 

So, despite the rain and cold I went looking for more in the surrounding woods. I started my hike on the hillside behind the mansion on the Scenic Vista trail. It was a wide well maintained trail under a mixed oak,  maple and pine forest.

I was given an added treat on my visit by finding that our state flower, the mountain laurel were in full bloom. 

The trail  slowly descended the hillside and crossed the access road.

Here it merged with a few other trails now climbed another hill under mainly pine trees. I was looking, and listening, but I didn’t see or hear anymore cicadas. 

The trail veered to the right after about a quarter mile and merged with the Buck Ridge trail. There were many birds singing in the surrounding woods but I wasn’t able to see them. I followed this trail about a quarter mile and decided to head back. It was cold and wet and I wasn’t finding any cicadas. 

On the way back I decided to go out of my way a bit and follow the Maple Hollow Trail which led me back to the access road. 

Following it up to my Jeep I finally found some more cicadas. 

They were clinging to plants along the road, mainly,  milkweed shoots. They looked liked they didn’t like the cold and rain either.  It may be why their weren’t making their  piercing loud mating sound that they are famous for and that  I wanted to hear. 

These strange and harmless. insects always amazed me.  They are native to Pennsylvania and do no lasting damage to our woodlands and forest. They appear by the millions in certain areas and their sound is loud and piercing.  Some folks actually eat the critters, I think they are cute, and I love their big orange eyes.  I could never eat them.  Here is a link to a video of a closer encounter with a member of Brood X  I uploaded to my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/4n0fmQzYevs

After playing with some more of the cute cicadas I returned to my Jeep. 

It was already around 7 pm. and I was wet, cold and hungry. I drove to the Carlisle diner where I had a wonderful seafood platter after which I returned to my hotel, hoping the weather would be better in the morning. I really wanted to hear that piercing sound of  the mating cicadas of Brood X.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs from my hike. Kings Gap State Park May 30 2021. 

Do you know the legend about cicadas? They say they are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because, when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to.

John Berger

This is my first post

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