It’s a party that only happens once every 17 years. This summer (mid-May) marks the emergence of the periodical cicada – a unique insect that last saw the light of day in 1999 – and Medina County Park District is celebrating its return with a series of special events.
The cicada’s life cycle begins when a female lays her rice-shaped eggs on a tree, said Interpretive Services Manager Shelley Tender. The larvae hatch, drop to the ground, and burrow into the earth, where they feed on fluids from tree roots. After 17 years, the cicada nymphs crawl out of the soil and climb a tree where they shed their exoskeletons. Cicadas spend their one- or two-week adult lives searching for mates, and the cycle begins again.
Broods of different species emerge at various times and locations. The cicada emerging mid-May through early June in Medina County are known as Brood Five. Adults are up to an inch-and-a-half long with red eyes and partly transparent wings. You just might hear cicadas before you see them. To attract females, males make a loud buzzing sound audible up to half a mile away.
Medina County Park District kicks off its celebration with a Cicada Crawl from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday, June 4, at Wolf Creek Environmental Center. It’s a fun run/walk for individuals of all ages and abilities. Just circle the 1-mile course as many times as you like in a two-hour period. Each time you cross the finish line, you’ll earn a raffle ticket for cool cicada prizes. There’s a $5 fee per person to participate. No advance registration is required. All who take part will receive a commemorative Cicada Crawl button.
Following the Cicada Crawl, come inside the environmental center for Cicada Mania from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s a fun‑filled day of cicada-themed activities for the entire family. Learn more about these fascinating creatures through special exhibits, crafts, and games. Collect cicada shells and go on a cicada hike. All activities are free! No registration required. Wolf Creek Environmental Center is located at 6100 Ridge Road in Sharon Township.
While periodical cicadas come out only once every 17 years, other varieties emerge annually. Learn more about both at Cicada Mania Weekend July 22-24 at Susan Hambley Nature Center. Enjoy crafts, games, and other activities from noon to 5 p.m. each day during this weekend of free family fun. All ages welcome. No registration required. The nature center is located at 1473 Parschen Blvd. in Brunswick.
Throughout the summer, join in the search for Maggie the traveling cicada as she makes her way to different Medina County Park District sites. When you spot this larger-than-life cicada along a park trail, take a selfie with Maggie and post the photo on Instagram or Twitter with the tags #cicadainthepark and #medinacountyparks. Special thanks to volunteer Kathy Kopach for lending her painting talents to help create Maggie. For more information on these and other Medina County Park District programs, please visit www.MedinaCountyParks.com.