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The Magic Cicada

The Magic Cicada

Author: Crystal Khoury

Students will explore the Magicicada and answer questions using prior knowledge and the information provided.

The Magicicada emerges in enormous numbers every 17 years in the Eastern United States.  Students will navigate through this tutorial to learn about this interesting organism.

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Science Standards - Grade 4 (Life Sciences)

2.  All organisms need energy and matter to live and grow. As a basis for understand­ing this concept:

a.Students know plants are the primary source of matter and energy entering most food chains.
b.Students know producers and consumers (herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and decomposers) are related in food chains and food webs and may compete with each other for resources in an ecosystem.
c.Students know decomposers, including many fungi, insects, and microorganisms, recycle matter from dead plants and animals.

Source: Science Content Standards for California Public Schools: Grades k-12. 1998. California Department of Education.

Quest #1: An Invasion

Prepare to be swarmed by billions of red-eyed bugs!

Click on the blue link above and read the article.

  • As you read, think about the life span of these interesting bugs and what purposes they may serve within their environment.

Source: Prepare to be swarmed by billions of red-eyed bugs. 2013, May. Associated Press. Accessed at

Quest #2 - Cicada Party

Watch this video from beginning to end and answer the following questions using Microsoft Word. When you have finished, email your answers to me.

1.) What other insects can you think of that transform into their adult form in a similar way to the cicada? (look at 1:59 - 2:40 of the video)

2.) What is the cicada's strategy for protecting itself from predators? (You will find this in 1:00-1:30 of the video)

3.) Think about the great number of cicadas that emerge at one time, how do you think this benefits the animals in this area? (for a hint, look at 4:00-4:25 of the video)

4.) Starting from where cicada eggs are laid by a female, describe the life cycle of the cicada. You may use bullet points or numbers to list each stage. (hint: you can see the beginning of this cycle starting at 4:45 in the video; the cycle should begin at the egg stage, and end with a female laying her own batch of eggs)

Source: Orr, S. Return of the Cicadas. via Motionkicker Accessed at