At times, being an Extension agent is like being a detective. Clients send in pictures and call in to describe various phenomena. Many times, it’s plant-related, sometimes it’s critter troubles, and more frequently than I care for, it’s insect issues. This week, a photo of a startling, red-eyed arthropod popped into my email.
Master Gardener Missy Lowery happened upon a somewhat unusual sight while tending her tomato plants last week, a periodical cicada. It took a break after molting, allowing her the perfect photo op! Its red eyes, black body, and large, veiny wings are startling! Periodical cicadas (Magicicada sp.) are known to occur in our area, but this straggler has unusual timing. Adults live for 4-6 weeks, with most of them appearing from mid-April to mid-May. I understand they are edible if you are into eating insects. (I always say edible and delicious are two different things!) However, the majority of the cicada’s life is spent underground as a nymph. For information, visit the HGIC online factsheet 2491, Cicadas.
The local brood of these noisy winged adults emerges every 13 years. Mrs. Lowery’s discovery is unusual because the next big appearance of periodical cicadas in our area is expected in 2024. Insects that come earlier than this mass emergence are outliers. In fact, a few other citizen scientists have been reporting sightings with the app iNaturalist in the project “Magicicada stragglers: 2022.” The majority of the early sightings have been reported in the Carolinas and Georgia. iNaturalist is a powerful tool to help you identify the plants and animals you may encounter.
Our June 1 Lunch and Learn topic will be Annuals for Pollinators. Join us at noon at the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakelands and bring your own lunch. The first annual S.C. Festival of Flowers Garden Symposium is coming June 10. Limited tickets are available via scfestivalofflowers.org. Training for those needing a private pesticide applicators license will be held on May 20. A review course for those needing a category 3 commercial license will be held on May 25. Visit the online calendar here to register for other upcoming extension events and classes: calendar.clemson.edu.