KIRO NIGHTS

KIRO Nights: Hyper sexual zombie cicadas?!

Apr 9, 2024, 5:10 PM | Updated: 5:20 pm

The periodical cicadas that are about to infest two parts of the United States aren’t just plentiful, they’re downright weird.

These insects are the strongest urinators in the animal kingdom with flows that put humans and elephants to shame. They have pumps in their heads that pull moisture from the roots of trees, allowing them to feed for more than a decade underground. They are rescuers of caterpillars.

And they are being ravaged by a sexually transmitted disease that turns them into zombies.

Photo: A periodical cicada nymph wiggles in the grass in Macon, Ga., on Thursday, March 28, 2024, after being found while digging holes for rosebushes.

A periodical cicada nymph wiggles in the grass in Macon, Ga., on Thursday, March 28, 2024, after being found while digging holes for rosebushes. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

Inside trees are sugary, nutrient-heavy saps that flow through tissue called phloem. Most insects love the sap. But not cicadas — they go for tissue called xylem, which carries mostly water and a bit of nutrients.

And it’s not easy to get into the xylem, which doesn’t just flow out when a bug taps into it because it’s under negative pressure. The cicada can get the fluid because its outsized head has a pump, said University of Alabama Huntsville entomologist Carrie Deans.

KIRO Nights: Top It Yogurt Shoppe art recreates famed film scenes

Jake Skorheim, host of “KIRO Nights with Jake Skorheim” on KIRO Newsradio, wanted to find out what all the buzz was about.

Skorheim found out two “broods” will emerge in numbers not seen in generations, according to a cicada expert who spoke with CBS News this week.

He goes on to talk about how an STD turns the bugs into “zombies” and how the males subsequently pretend to be females.

You can learn more about the unusual insects by watching the full “KIRO Nights” segment posted at the top of this story.

Contributing: Julia Dallas, MyNorthwest and Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press.

Listen to KIRO Nights weeknights from 7-10 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the KIRO Nights with Jake Skorheim podcast here, on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.

KIRO Nights on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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