Too many locusts:
We used to call them seventeen year locusts.  But it was Florida.  We used to call locusts grasshoppers.  Actually they are cicadas, and this time I won’t complain about having the terminology change; just don’t expect Florida to go along.  There is a fish called a “dolphin.”  There is also a mammal called a dolphin.  An old Florida gag was to ask, “Is a dolphin a fish or a mammal?”  Of course what everybody else called the bottle nosed dolphin was for us a porpoise.  That’s all right.  But alas the fish dolphin, which is very good eating, is now called something else, I forget what.

So this year lots of cicadas are coming out of the ground.  The epicenter is Rutgers, in case you have any friends there.  (Well sort of.  Richard Monastersky Long-lived Insects Raise Prime Riddle NATURE vol. 497 no. 7451 May 30, 2013 page 545)  There are different broods of the beasts, some on a 13 year cycle and some on a 17 year cycle.  No one is quite sure how or why they have set up their long life cycles. 

Well I have a different problem and I admit I am quite stumped.  You see the cicadas turn up at a density of up to 350 per square meter.  The bug is about the size of a Florida cockroach.  Yes, the terminology is different here, too.  I have seen three kinds of insects about the size of a cicada all called cockroaches.  Never you mind, they are all a lot bigger than what you probably call a roach.  Anyway they fly up into the trees and make an incredible racket.  So they must have to travel several yards.  Anything the size of a cockroach can move many yards easily as you will learn if you ever try to stomp one.  (If I see the same one often enough he becomes by definition a pet so I scoop him up and release him outside.)  Let’s call it ten yards, or a hundred square meters for a typical wander.  That would be a mating pool size of at least 30,000.  That, by my reckoning, is about the same size as an unrestricted fruit fly colony will equilibrate to.  In that case it is ten flies counted in the window of the cage with about 2,500 present for each that was counted. 

Well that’s close enough as it stands.  But somehow that thirty foot trip seems very short to me, it’s a minimum.  Given some strong winds the distance could easily be ten times that, which suggests a mating pool size of 3 million; that just won’t wash.  So I am baffled.  Perhaps if I lived where the brood was coming out I would go out and paint colored spots on some of them and try to see how far the colored spots diffused over the few weeks that the bugs live. 
Maybe next swarm.

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