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periodical cicada

A periodical cicada perches on a green leaf. The cicada's body is black with large red eyes. Folded backward over its body are two long translucent wings with brown veins at top and black veins toward the end of the wings.

A long-standing query about periodical cicadas that emerge every 13 or 17 years was recently answered by a team at USDA Agricultural Research Service: Once periodical cicadas emerge, do they actually feed on vegetation? Their analysis of cicadas’ gut contents found plant DNA in mature adult cicadas but none in freshly emerged adults, a strong sign that adult cicadas do feed on plants, since no plant matter in cicadas’ guts carries over from their nymph stage. Shown here is a Brood X 17-year cicada adult on a linden tree leaf in Maryland during the brood’s 2021 emergence. (Photo by Peggy Greb, USDA-ARS, public domain)

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