Why were there so few sightings of cicadas in New York City this year? This New York Times video gives us all the details about it.
Watch the video and answer the questions about it below. The activity is suitable for intermediate 1 and intermediate 2 students.
1 How often do cicadas appear?
2 What feature of the cityscape stops cicadas from getting into town?
3 What are the typical spots where cicadas are usually found?
4 And some unusual ones?
5 What is the main reason why cicadas have only been found in specific places this year?
6 What does '300' refer to?
7 What specific ability are cicadas lacking in?
For correction, you can read the transcript below.
Many people feel disappointed that in the seventeenth year cicadas didn’t appear in their neighbourhood this year. But the cicadas were out there. You just had to be in the right spots. Central Park in Manhattan are no good. Too many skyscrapers in the city block the way in from the suburbs for insects not well-known for its flying abilities. And while the Bronx had a few, Queens and Brooklyn seemingly had none. By far, the cicada hot spot for New York City this year was Staten Island.
Here they can easily be found in all the usual spots, in woodlands, parks and backyards. However, they can also be found in unusual locations, such as on the beach just a few feet from the ocean, and even in the ocean if they have chosen an unfortunate spot on which to land.
So why were the cicadas this year only found in patches, sometimes miles apart, rather than in a continual blanket across the landscape from North Carolina to Connecticut? One part of this puzzle is to understand how we’ve changed the landscape over the past several centuries. Once, the eastern United States was almost entirely forested and periodical cicadas were quite possibly found everywhere if there were appropriate types of trees. But after 300 years of agricultural and urban development, the forests nearly everywhere have been cut down at least once one time or another, and without enough trees eventually you lose the cicadas. Even where enough trees remained to support them, like Robinson Crusoe shipwreck on island, the cicadas often became marooned on forested fragments scattered across the larger landscape.
And because they are not the best of flyers, even when they trees grow back, it can take a long time for the cicadas to return. Able to fly no more than a few miles every seventeenth year, it will be centuries before the cicadas can spread back across the landscape that they once occupied. And even then, continued development always has the potential to remove them from the Ardmore of their habitat. In the end, all we can do is enjoy them where they are currently found and hope that enough trees and forests remain and grow back in the future so that one day the seventeen-year periodical cicadas will once again be heard everywhere. Maybe even in Central Park.