Aug 14 2008
Birds aren’t the only ones that lay eggs.
This morning I heard buzzing from the top of the zelkova tree in our front yard. It took me a while to find the source and then I needed my binoculars to see it. A female cicada was laying eggs on one of the branches.
The cicada has a sharp ovipostor with which she rips a long slit in the bark of a twig and lays up to 600 eggs. Weeks later, the eggs hatch and the nymphs fall to the dirt where they burrow underground to live two to 17 years depending on the species.
If Mrs. Cicada had thought about the ground under our zelkova (does she think at all?) she would have realized it is not a good location for her nymphs. Our tree is mostly surrounded by impermeable surfaces – sidewalk and street. Only a few of her lucky offspring are likely to fall on our front garden where there’s dirt for them to dig in.
But her presence explains why every spring every I find dead twig-sized branches on the zelkova with open “zippers” in their bark. I don’t mind. She’s pruning it for me. Heaven knows the tree needs it.
(photo of Cicada in Tree by John Tsui published in Wikipedia Commons. Click the photo to see the original.)