How Cicadas Become Flying Saltshakers of Death

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By National Geographic. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

After 17 years underground, so-called Brood X cicadas get a fleeting moment in the sun and commence their deafening buzz. But periodical cicadas can’t escape a silent killer: a fungus that eats them from the inside and forces them into a rabid mania. Follow National Geographic Explorer Matt Kasson as he tracks these “flying saltshakers of death,” and hear why scientists say cicadas should be respected, not feared—even if they do raise a ruckus in your backyard.

For more information about this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.

Want more?

Trillions of cicadas appearing at once is a good thing, we promise. Learn more about how periodical cicadas do it.

And see photos of annual cicadas from the National Geographic Photo Ark. Also, bring Brood X to your taste buds with recipes for cocktails, cupcakes, and other buggy treats.

Also explore:

Read on about the weird world of zombie cicadas. And track cicada emergences near you with Cicada Safari or other smartphone apps.

If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.

73 episodes