Dawn of the Chirpy Bugs: A collection of cicada-related news

Cicada on leaf

Image: Cicada, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from tinali778's photostream

So here is another line to kill space

This summer, folks on the East Coast of the US will see (and hear) an invasion of billions of cicadas in what is probably the most obvious part of the insects' 17-year life cycle. The cicadas will crawl out of the dirt, make a lot of noise, and seek out other cicadas in order to breed and create a new generation of larvae that will, 17 years from now, emerge to do the same thing all over again.

It's big news for those of us who think things like insects, evolution, and cyclical processes of nature are really, really cool.

Today, I ran across a number of Cicadasplosion-related stories and wanted to share them with you:

• First up, Carl Zimmer has a piece in the New York Times about cicadas and the evolution of seemingly strange life cycles. It includes a neat, interactive graphic showing a century of cicada blooms around the United States.

The University of Maryland has a helpful cicada cookbook, including tips on the best times and ways to harvest the bugs. You want them young, and succulent, apparently.

• Cicadas will not hurt you, but they might land on you and there's a possibility that they may be sexually attracted to the sound of your weed-wacker.

• In 1894, The New York Times suggested pressing cicadas into a biscuit for dog food.

• If you're not a cicada fan and don't want to eat them yourself, rest assured, some of them will be eaten alive by a horrific-sounding fungus.

Radiolab's cicada tracker is still up and running, and you can participate.

• A couple of years ago, when a different group of cicadas (on a 13-year-cycle) was hatching in North Carolina, Charles Choi spoke with chronobiologist and blogger Bora Zivkovic about why we don't yet understand cyclical systems like this.

Image: Cicada on leaf, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from frotzed's photostream