This post is part of a series of posts featuring the stories from our STEM Story Project.
What is it like to emerge after 17 years alone underground? That’s the life of billions of periodical cicadas that emerged up and down the East Coast earlier this summer — the only place in the world where periodical cicadas live.
Producer Louisa Jonas’ Cicada Confidential expounds on the emergence of periodical cicadas. The piece is told from the perspective of the relatively quiet female cicada, often overshadowed in the press by stories of the raucous singing of the impetuous males. We get in the head of the female as she sees light for the first time, has sex after almost two decades of waiting, and meets her inevitable demise.
Lean in and listen:
We asked Louisa what it was like to work on this project:
“It was a good lesson in aiming for creativity while being expedient. My favorite thing was driving around New York and New Jersey on a cicada hunt […] Not all of that audio ended up in the piece, but things are going well when you have too much good tape.”
In addition to wanting to educate her audience about periodical cicadas, Louisa also has a personal connection to these creatures.
“I tried to channel my thirteen-year-old self when I first encountered millions of cicadas and one got tangled in my hair […] I kept that in mind, thinking about what my audience might first feel in hearing a story about a cascade of insects. Not everyone loves them, but I was hoping to show how admirable these creatures are.”
Louisa sent us a brood map that documents where Brood II of magicicada emerged this year along the East Coast. (Click for a more detailed, interactive version.)
Listen to all the other PRX STEM Story Project pieces.
This piece has aired on WTIP, Radio Newark, WNPR, RadioFreePalmer, WTJU and KZYX.