Archive for Tuesday, June 4, 2013

100 years ago: Locusts re-emerge after 17 years underground

June 4, 2013


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for June 4, 1913:

  • "After seventeen years of seclusion in the interior of the earth the Seventeen Year Locusts have returned this year to pay mother earth a visit of a few weeks. All over Douglas County the song of the little buzzers is heard these nights. The first of the little pests arrived several days ago and since then their number has been steadily increasing until now great flocks of them fill the trees and make the nights hideous with their melancholy chorus. The locust of this species is not very destructive and does only slight damage to the tree in which it lives. Six weeks is the life of the insect after emerging from its long hibernation.... The eggs which bore the countless billions of the brood that is appearing now were laid in the summer of 1896, in twigs. A few weeks after the eggs were laid the baby cicadas, about the size of minute ants, crawled out of the eggs and dropped to the ground and burrowed from two to four feet straight down into the earth, each forming for himself a little subterranean chamber of cell adjoining the sappy root of the family tree. In this underground cell, about the size of a small grain, but gradually growing with its occupant, each cicada remained in the form of a white grub sucking its food from the tree root and living in solitary confinement for seventeen years knowing only its moist earthen chamber, separated from its brothers and sisters, rarely changing its position save as some accident to the nourishing rootlet caused it to burrow further in search for another.... When the cicada is ready to emerge it burrows to the surface and builds itself a little mud chimney and there it lies while its wings are forming under a hard shell. Then it crawls out and goes to the parent tree and climbs up it and clings fast with its claws and within an hour the back of its parchment-like shell burst and the winged cicada emerges ready to fly and mate."
  • "The Youth of Lawrence is learning to swim this week. At the Y.M.C.A. swimming pool yesterday afternoon just fifty-two boys from the homes of the city took their first lesson in the water. For twenty minutes these little fellows splashed about in the water, practicing the stroke which was shown them by Physical Director H. W. Boltz. They were the guests of the association and were being taught to care for themselves in the water as part of the public service rendered by the association. It was a big day for them. For many it was their first attempt at the great American sport. In his early youth there is perhaps nothing which has the same attraction and the same fascination for a boy as has the water. It is human and American for him to want to swim. The American boy is the rival in this respect of the feathered little animal which lives on the water. And learning to swim is great sport.... it means a ducking or two, it means the gulping down of water which was not intended for drinking purposes.... There were no water wings at this swimming school, the boys are being taught in the old fashioned way.... Three lessons are to be given these boys at the Y.M. and it is said that this is long enough for them to learn to swim. Of course it does not make them expert, but most of them are able to handle themselves in this time."
  • "Tom Delahaunty who has been serving out a $300 fine at the county jail was released Monday by the Douglas county commissioners. Tom has served and worked out about $53 of his sentence. It is due to Tom's unfailing efforts that the lawn surrounding the county jail is now looking fine and has been rid of all dandelions and other loose 'trash.'"


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.