Magicicada sp. Brood X straggler. Posing on an old tuliptree flower stalk. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA.
Magicicada sp. Brood X straggler. Posing on an old tuliptree flower stalk. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA.

Cosmic Queries – Cicada Invasion! With Jessica Ware

Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

Are you ready for the cicada invasion? In this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Negin Farsad sit down with evolutionary biologist and entomologist Jessica Ware to answer your questions about the millions of cicadas expected to emerge this summer after 17 years underground. 

To kick things off, we talk about how one even gets involved in entomology– the study of bugs– dragonflies, and the basics of what the heck is happening with cicadas this summer. Why do they stay underground for 17 years? Is there a strategy? How do they keep time to know when to come out? We explore what cicada broods are, what they eat for 17 years, and what cicada puberty looks like. 

Are there any positive consequences to the cicada invasion? How do cicadas impact the environment? How does our changing environment impact cicadas? And most importantly, what do cicadas even do? Discover why cicadas even emerge from the ground in the first place. You’ll also find out what cicadas taste like and whether they’d be a good source of protein. 

Will the skies be filled with swarms of cicadas? You’ll learn how many cicadas there will be, why their underground stage is not actually hibernation, and how long they will be joining us on the surface. In classic StarTalk fashion, we ask ourselves if there are any lessons from cicadas to be taken for human space travel. How have human settlement impacted cicadas? All that, plus, learn everything you need to know about this summer’s cicada takeover and above all: would Neil be willing to eat a cicada or two? 

Thanks to our Patrons Kaz Barnes, Philippe Dewindt, M. Tristan Moody, Dan Hadfield, Wavezzz, Tony Le, Kyle Marston, Colten Judd, Rafael Ignacio Aguilar Carrillo, Caleb Martin for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.

In This Episode

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