The incessant buzzing sounds of cicadas are everywhere around town now and herald the hot steamy dog days of summer. Their buzzing continues from nearly dawn to dusk. In East Brunswick we have a few species of cicadas, each with its own distinct buzzing call. Only the males make noise, as a mating call to attract females. They make the sound with specialized membranes and the sound is then amplified by the body cavity. The buzzing can be as loud as 100 decibels.Cicadas have an amazing life history. The cicadas we see flying around and hear buzzing are the adults that have recently emerged from a nymph that spent many years underground. Depending on the species, the underground portion of their life cycle can be from a few years to as much as 17 years.
I'm going a little bit crazy right now with the anticipation of the cicadas coming. Anyone that knows me can tell you that I can't really have a conversation right now without uttering the word cicada. A typical conversation with my wife goes something like this these past few days:
Her - How was your day?
Me - Not bad. Did you hear there were some reports of cicadas in New Jersey on CicadaTracker.
Her - What do you want to do for dinner?
Me - Maybe the diner, not that the short ribs taste anything like cicadas.
Her - Want to watch the Mentalist?
Me - Sure, they had an episode about a rare moth, I wonder if they will do one about cicadas?
Her - Good Night.
Me - Good night. I wonder if there will be a lot of new cicada sightings south of us tomorrow with the rain expected tonight?
Last month's column on renaming the yellow-bellied sapsucker generated quite a few responses, including those of two readers who cited a classic "Honeymooners" episode.
Although few readers could match my indignation over the ill-conceived naming of this dynamic woodpecker, most — but not all — agreed that a name change was in order.
Perhaps because I am partial to input from younger readers, some of my favorite suggestions came from a class of Dumont second-graders (ages 7 and 8).
Sometime in the next week or so, you will be bugged.
Bugged by their noise, which can reach 120 decibels — as loud as a motorcycle.
Bugged by piles of their dead carcasses in your driveway and the exoskeletons attached to swing sets and just about everything else in your yard.
Bugged by their bodies splattered across your windshield.
Had this skipper (Zabulon?), an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and some Cabbage Whites on Monday afternoon on the Kingsland Overlook. Yikes — time to get out the butterfly field guides again.
NEW YORK — Four peregrine falcon chicks roosting high above the Hudson River on the George Washington Bridge were pronounced healthy Tuesday and fitted with tracking bands to help biologists keep tabs on them.
Their mother's squawks competed with the din of morning-rush bridge traffic as Chris Nadareski, a wildlife biologist with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, gently lifted the fluffy chicks out of their nesting box and used pliers to fasten metal bands around their legs.
I drove over a bridge from Maryland into Virginia today and on the big “Welcome to Virginia” sign was an image of the state bird, the northern cardinal—with a yellow bill. I should have scoffed, but it hardly registered. Everyone knows that state birds are a big joke. There are a million cardinals, a scattering of robins, and just a general lack of thought put into the whole thing.
return of hundreds of the ancient horseshoe crabs to their familiar spawning sites in Sandy Hook Bay has begun.
It's a satisfying sight after the destruction to the shore last fall from Hurricane Sandy.
Who knew what to expect? There was a certain amount of vagueness and concern as to how many, if any, horseshoe crabs would show this year, especially given that the loss of shoreline habitat from erosion or the building of bulkheads, beach nourishment projects that can bury and kill adult crabs.
While striped fishing remains good, and bluefish are building up inshore, the spotlight shifts to Saturday’s opening of the fluke season — followed by the sea bass opener on Sunday.
This year’s summer flounder regulations include the same 17½-inch minimum as last year with a bag limit of five through Sept. 16. The ASMFC has granted New Jersey another 11 days, and the Marine Fisheries Council will vote in July on whether to use those days in order to extend the end of the season.
Cold bottom waters are always a problem during the fluke opener, but conditions look favorable for a decent start this year. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Brielle Marina, says, "Shark River is paved with fluke" and his rental boats are ready for them. Northern boaters will have plenty of company drifting off the Sandy Hook Bug Light, an early hot spot — particularly if there’s a northeast wind.
When the soil eight inches below the surfaces reaches 64 degrees, sometime between now and early June, billions of extremely noisy insects that have been underground feeding off of tree roots for 17 years will suddenly appear.
Magicicada septendecim, sometimes called the Pharaoh cicada, appear in fantastic, large swarms every 17 years for a “frenzy of sex and death” that will last up to six weeks.
One of two venomous snakes found in New Jersey, the Northern Copperhead emerges from its den each year around this time, said John Parke, stewardship project director of the north region of the New Jersey Audubon.
Unlike the Timber rattlesnakes, which are mostly restricted to the Kittatinny Mountains in Warren County, Copperheads are found throughout the county, Parke said.
Coyotes are not your friends. Coyote sightings have been reported in the Glen Ridge with at least one pet (a dog) has been attacked in its backyard. The town shares the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s precautions:
Never feed a coyote. Deliberately feeding coyotes puts pets and other residents in the neighborhood at risk.
An hour before a November dawn, I’m at a dirt pull-off in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Around me are more than 280,000 acres of public forest. These are big woods, and getting bigger. By legislative decree, the oak, maples, and ash here can never be cut. They’ve been growing for a century now. Some hunters whose legs have become too old to climb these steep forested hills tell me there were once a lot of deer here. There were grouse and rabbits, too. And hunters came from a hundred miles away to chase them. These days, both the game and the hunters are mostly gone.
As I shoulder my rifle, a pickup stops. A man, his face dimly lit by dashboard lights, says, “Have you seen a deer yet?” “No.” “Why do we keep coming back?”