Ice storms, sink holes, floods: What's next? Not locusts, but maybe cicadas

Friday, April 25, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Floodwaters covered Helen Street in Chaffee Wednesday afternoon where two vehicles were stranded near the intersection with Highway 77.
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Floodwaters covered Helen Street in Chaffee Wednesday afternoon where two vehicles were stranded near the intersection with Highway 77.

Since January, Southeast Missourians have faced monthly disasters.

In January, storms ripped through the region. A tornado destroyed an Essex, Mo., home. February featured a series of devastating ice storms. In March, Cape Girardeau experienced record-breaking rainfall, followed by floods. Aftershocks from April 18's 5.2 magnitude earthquake near Bellmont, Ill., continue to be recorded almost daily.

Sinkholes appeared on a monthly basis in the southeast corner of Cape Girardeau.

So, what's next?

While Miranda Petrea, of Salem, Ill., a senior elementary education major at Southeast Missouri State University, predicts multiple tornadoes, many others have wondered aloud when the locusts are due.

"That would be annoying if they did come, but I guess it would be fine, since we went through the earthquake," said Farrell Rooks, 21, of St. Louis, a junior construction management major at Southeast.

Still, he was relieved to learn the last locust seen in North America was in 1902.

FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Green grass is good. Brown grass is not so good, but will grow again. Dark grass is dead.
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com Green grass is good. Brown grass is not so good, but will grow again. Dark grass is dead.

Tim Judd, entomologist and Southeast Missouri State University biology professor, said many people confuse locusts with the annual influx of cicadas, those noisy winged creatures that hum like power lines. Those insects will be back. Like locusts and earthquakes, they swarm.

Bruce Barrett, entomologist with the University of Missouri's Extension Office, said scientists who follow cicadas have named each population a "brood."

He said Ohio is likely to see a big brood this year. Though no large emergence is expected in Southeast Missouri, Barrett said from time to time,small areas see a swarm, though he prefers the term congregation.

"We're not anticipating any widespread emergence until 2011 in the eastern part of the state," Barrett said. "How far north or south, I can't say."

KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Ice-laden tree limbs leaned down on already ice-heavy utility lines Tuesday afternoon along Farmington St. in Jackson.
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Ice-laden tree limbs leaned down on already ice-heavy utility lines Tuesday afternoon along Farmington St. in Jackson.

While cicadas will definitely be around this summer, a plague is not expected, he said.

Judd, who specializes in the study of termites and other social insects, hesitated to make insect predictions for the year.

"There's always a lot of termites around. More than usual? I don't know," Judd said. "If it's a little bit moist, it's easier for them to dig."

Rob Lawrence, forest entomologist with Missouri Department of Conservation, said he expects an average year among insect populations.

AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Sinkhole number 14 sets open, filled with about 30 feet of water as crews work on sinkholes three and ten on the other side of the tracks on Friday, March 21, 2008.
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Sinkhole number 14 sets open, filled with about 30 feet of water as crews work on sinkholes three and ten on the other side of the tracks on Friday, March 21, 2008.

But he added this caveat for mosquitoes: "We might have a burst of them with all the standing water and a lot of warm temperatures for a while," he said. "Once we get past the spring weather and get into the drought season of summer, things will change."

Yes, he said drought.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

An adult cicada climbs a tree in Princeton, N.J., in this June 1, 2004, file photo. The red-eyed, shrimp-sized, flying insects, which should be appearing soon, don't bite or sting. But they are known for mating calls that produce a din that can overpower ringing telephones, lawn mowers and power tools. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer, File)
An adult cicada climbs a tree in Princeton, N.J., in this June 1, 2004, file photo. The red-eyed, shrimp-sized, flying insects, which should be appearing soon, don't bite or sting. But they are known for mating calls that produce a din that can overpower ringing telephones, lawn mowers and power tools. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer, File)

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