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‘One of craziest life cycles’: Trillions of US cicadas to emerge | Environment News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



Across 15 states in the United States, trillions of bugs will emerge soon after 17 years underground, scientists have said, in a sign that despite climate change, nature continues.
Two of those scientists working in the east coast state of Maryland, sift through a shovel load of dirt in a suburban back yard, Michael Raupp and Paula Shrewsbury to find their quarry: a cicada nymph.
In maybe a third of a square foot of dirt, the University of Maryland entomologists find at least seven cicadas – a rate just shy of a million per acre. A nearby yard yielded a rate closer to 1.5 million.
Within days, a couple of weeks at most, the cicadas of Brood X (the X is the Roman numeral for 10) will emerge after 17 years underground. There are many broods of periodic cicadas that appear on rigid schedules in different years, but this is one of the largest and most noticeable. They will be in 15 states from Indiana to Georgia to New York; they are coming out now in mass numbers in Tennessee and North Carolina.
When the entire brood emerges, backyards can look like undulating waves, and the bug chorus is lawnmower loud.
The cicadas will mostly come out at dusk to try to avoid everything that wants to eat them, squiggling out of holes in the ground. They will try to climb up trees or anything vertical, including Raupp and Shrewsbury. Once off the ground, they shed their skins and try to survive that vulnerable stage before they become dinner to a host of critters, including ants, birds, dogs, and cats.
Trillions of cicadas are expected to emerge across 15 US states in the coming days and weeks [Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo]It is one of nature’s weirdest events, featuring sex, a race against death, evolution and what can sound like a bad science fiction movie soundtrack.
Some people may be repulsed. Psychiatrists are calling entomologists worrying about their patients, Shrewsbury said. But scientists say the arrival of Brood X is a sign that despite pollution, climate change and dramatic biodiversity loss, something is still right with nature. And it is quite a show.
Raupp presents the narrative of cicada’s lifespan with all the verve of a Hollywood blockbuster.
“You’ve got a creature that spends 17 years in a COVID-like existence, isolated underground sucking on plant sap, right? In the 17th year, these teenagers are going to come out of the earth by the billions if not trillions. They’re going to try to best everything on the planet that wants to eat them during this critical period of the nighttime when they’re just trying to grow up, they’re just trying to be adults, shed that skin, get their wings, go up into the treetops, escape their predators,” he says.
“Once in the treetops, hey, it’s all going to be about romance. It’s only the males that sing. It’s going to be a big boy band up there as the males try to woo those females, try to convince that special someone that she should be the mother of his nymphs. He’s going to perform, sing songs. If she likes it, she’s going to click her wings. They’re going to have some wild sex in the treetop.
“Then she’s going to move out to the small branches, lay their eggs. Then it’s all going to be over in a matter of weeks. They’re going to tumble down. They’re going to basically fertilise the very plants from which they were spawned. Six weeks later the tiny nymphs are going to tumble 80 feet from the treetops, bounce twice, burrow down into the soil, go back underground for another 17 years.”
A cicada nymph sits on the ground; they emerge in large numbers in part as a survival strategy – predators cannot eat them all [Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo]“This,” Raupp says, “is one of the craziest life cycles of any creature on the planet.”
The US is the only place in the world that has periodic cicadas that stay underground for either 13 or 17 years, says entomologist John Cooley of the University of Connecticut.
The bugs only emerge in large numbers when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit (17.8 degrees Celsius). That is happening earlier in the calendar in recent years because of climate change, says entomologist Gene Kritsky. Before 1950, they used to emerge at the end of May; now they are coming out weeks earlier.
Though there have been some early bugs In Maryland and Ohio, soil temperatures have been in the low 60s Fahrenheit. So Raupp and other scientists believe the big emergence is days away – a week or two, maximum.
Cicadas who come out early do not survive. They are quickly eaten by predators. Cicadas evolved a key survival technique: overwhelming numbers. There is just too many of them to all get eaten when they all emerge at once, so some will survive and reproduce, Raupp says.
This is not an invasion. The cicadas have been here the entire time, quietly feeding off tree roots underground, not asleep, just moving slowly waiting for their body clocks to tell them it is time to come out and breed. They have been in the US for millions of years, far longer than people.
When they emerge, it gets noisy – 105 decibels, like “a singles bar gone horribly, horribly wrong”, Cooley says. There are three distinct cicada species and each has its own mating song.
The largest concentrations of cicada are  expected in the Washington, DC region in May 2021 [ File: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE]They are not locusts and the only plants they damage are young trees, which can be netted. The year after a big batch of cicadas, trees actually do better because dead bugs serve as fertiliser, Kritsky says.
People tend to be scared of the wrong insects, says University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum. The mosquito kills more people than any other animals because of malaria and other diseases. Yet some people really dread the cicada emergence, she said.
“I think it’s the fact that they’re an inconvenience. Also, when they die in mass numbers they smell bad,” Berenbaum says. “They really disrupt our sense of order.”
But others are fond of cicadas – and even munch on them, using recipes like those in a University of Maryland cookbook. And for scientists like Cooley, there is a real beauty in their life cycle.
“This is a feel-good story, folks. It really is and it’s in a year we need more,” he says. “When they come out, it’s a great sign that forests are in good shape. All is as it is supposed to be.”







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Details Emerge Of How Melinda, Bill Gates Are Dividing $145 Billion From “NDTV News – World-news”



The couple oversees the largest private foundation in the world. (File)As a married couple, Bill and Melinda Gates spent decades amassing one of history’s largest fortunes. Now that they’re divorcing, they have to untangle that $145 billion.Details of the split have already started to emerge.Cascade Investment, a holding company Bill created with his Microsoft Corp. winnings, transferred securities worth more than $1.8 billion to Melinda French Gates, according to U.S. regulatory filings dated May 3. The shift comprised about $1.5 billion of Canadian National Railway Co. shares and more than $300 million of AutoNation Inc. stock. Cascade currently holds securities valued at more than $50 billion, including stakes in Republic Services Inc., Deere & Co. and Ecolab Inc.How their wealth is ultimately divvied up is set to shake up the uppermost ranks of the world’s richest people and could have billion-dollar implications on what philanthropic causes get attention. The couple oversees the largest private foundation in the world and has promised that the majority of their wealth will be donated.In announcing the split, the couple said they will both remain involved in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has contributed vast sums to the realms of global health, climate change policy and social issues. But the $50 billion operation — with billions more still to be given — depends on the cooperation of two exes.”As uncomfortable as it is, their personal relationship is going to have huge consequences for where the money goes,” said Benjamin Soskis, senior research associate at the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. “The Gates Foundation is the most influential and important philanthropic organization in the world, not only in terms of its assets and grantmaking. Bill and Melinda themselves have each become incredibly influential public figures in their own rights.”The split, after 27 years of marriage, comes just two years after the 2019 separation announcement of Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, another billionaire tech couple in Washington state. That divorce led to a 75-25 split of the couple’s 16% stake in Amazon.com Inc. for Bezos and Scott, respectively.It made Scott the fourth richest woman in the world and rippled through the global philanthropic landscape as she became one of the most prolific donors of 2020, contributing to gender equality causes alongside Melinda French Gates.The Gates fortune, at $145 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, could prove more complex to carve up than the Bezos assets, which were largely concentrated in Amazon stock.Multiple AssetsThe couple’s net worth originated with Bill’s stake in Microsoft, but shares of the software-maker now probably make up less than 20% of their assets. They’ve shifted much of his holding into the Gates Foundation over the years and his exact stake hasn’t been disclosed since he left Microsoft’s board last year.The biggest asset is Cascade Investment, which is run by money manager Michael Larson. Through Cascade, Gates has interests in real estate, energy and hospitality as well as public companies. Canadian National is the third-biggest public equity holding. Cascade transferred 14.1 million shares to Melinda, and has 87.3 million shares, which are owned by Bill, the regulatory filing shows.The couple are also among the largest landowners in America and have homes including their 66,000 square-foot mansion in Medina, Washington.The rapid stock transfer could be a sign that it’s already been decided how the fortune will be split.”I would imagine that almost everything is done,” said Jacqueline Newman, a divorce attorney and managing partner at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP. “For them to issue this kind of statement, they have probably worked out 90-95% of the divorce. They’re not putting something like this out otherwise.”Community Property StateThe Gateses live in Washington, which is a community property state. That means that anything acquired during a marriage is considered to be equally owned by both partners. But that doesn’t necessarily mean their fortune will be evenly split.”It is not a mandatory 50-50,” said Janet George, a family lawyer in Washington with the firm McKinley Irvin. “The courts can award more or less, depending on what is just and equitable.”Details of their division may never be publicly revealed because they’re likely hidden behind the couple’s private contracts, George said. Their stakes in public companies that are large enough to have to report holdings will give a peek behind the curtain.Gates FoundationWhat the couple owns is one thing, but much of their focus over the past couple of decades has been on what to give away.The foundation is one of the largest private charitable foundations in the world, having made almost $55 billion in grant payments through the end of 2019. A former general manager at Microsoft, Melinda helps drive strategy at the organization, with a particular focus on gender equity. Bill has been more focused on the science and global health side of their giving.”Bill and Melinda will remain co-chairs and trustees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” a spokesperson for the foundation wrote in an emailed statement. “No changes to their roles or the organization are planned. They will continue to work together to shape and approve foundation strategies, advocate for the foundation’s issues, and set the organization’s overall direction.”Both Bill and Melinda Gates “were not just behind the scenes players. They were decision makers,” said Soskis of the Urban Institute, whose own work has been supported by the Gates Foundation.In cases where a wealthy philanthropic couple splits up, their foundations are sometimes divided as well, said Mela Garber, a tax principal at the accounting and advisory firm Anchin in New York who specializes in matrimonial matters.Even when divorces are amicable, Garber said, “they might not want to be together at certain meetings and fundraising, and have the same level of involvement with people around.” The complexities of two exes working together can become clearer as time goes on, she said. “Creating two new foundations eliminates a huge area of tension.”Splitting the Gates Foundation is difficult for many philanthropic experts to imagine. However, “they could pursue separate goals within the confines of the foundation itself,” said Brian Mittendorf, an Ohio State University professor who studies nonprofits.Famous NamesAlready a household name thanks to his previous status as the world’s richest man, Bill Gates became even more famous when he emerged as a go-to expert on the pandemic at a time when official guidance was often confusing and contradictory. His work has made him a target of conspiracy theories as well as controversies over patents and how to open up global access to the vaccines.For her part, Melinda French Gates has raised her own profile with the publication of a book, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” in 2019. She has in recent years helped shift the foundation’s strategy, as a “top-down, technocratic” approach to giving has become more responsive to “community needs and community input,” Soskis said.Despite its size, the Gates Foundation’s board only has three members: Bill, Melinda, and Warren Buffett — who has promised to devote bulk of his own considerable fortune to his friends’ foundation. That means disagreements between the two exes may need to be settled by the 90-year-old billionaire.”To the extent to which they have huge divergent interests that would arise, Buffett would play an important role,” Ohio State University’s Mittendorf said.The pair could also pursue their separate interests outside the foundation, in their investments and personal philanthropy. Bill Gates, for example, founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund that fights climate change by investing in startups with the potential to cut global annual emissions by as much as 500 million tons each year. Other backers include Bezos and Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP.In 2015, Melinda French Gates started Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company, “as a separate, independent organization to identify, help develop and implement innovative solutions to problems affecting U.S. women and families.”In 2019, French Gates committed $1 billion to speed up the pace at which women gained power and influence in the U.S. A year later, Pivotal announced it’d be partnering with MacKenzie Scott to start the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, a $30 million award to organizations that come up with ways to advance women’s power by 2030.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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Trillions of cicadas about to emerge From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) — Sifting through a shovel load of dirt in a suburban backyard, Michael Raupp and Paula Shrewsbury find their quarry: a cicada nymph.And then another. And another. And four more.In maybe a third of a square foot of dirt, the University of Maryland entomologists find at least seven cicadas — a rate just shy of a million per acre. A nearby yard yielded a rate closer to 1.5 million.And there’s much more afoot. Trillions of the red-eyed black bugs are coming, scientists say.Within days, a couple weeks at most, the cicadas of Brood X (the X is the Roman numeral for 10) will emerge after 17 years underground. There are many broods of periodic cicadas that appear on rigid schedules in different years, but this is one of the largest and most noticeable. They’ll be in 15 states from Indiana to Georgia to New York; they’re coming out now in mass numbers in Tennessee and North Carolina.When the entire brood emerges, backyards can look like undulating waves, and the bug chorus is lawnmower loud.The cicadas will mostly come out at dusk to try to avoid everything that wants to eat them, squiggling out of holes in the ground. They’ll try to climb up trees or anything vertical, including Raupp and Shrewsbury. Once off the ground, they shed their skins and try to survive that vulnerable stage before they become dinner to a host of critters including ants, birds, dogs, cats and Raupp.It’s one of nature’s weirdest events, featuring sex, a race against death, evolution and what can sound like a bad science fiction movie soundtrack.Some people may be repulsed. Psychiatrists are calling entomologists worrying about their patients, Shrewsbury said. But scientists say the arrival of Brood X is a sign that despite pollution, climate change and dramatic biodiversity loss, something is still right with nature. And it’s quite a show.Raupp presents the narrative of cicada’s lifespan with all the verve of a Hollywood blockbuster:Story continues“You’ve got a creature that spends 17 years in a COVID-like existence, isolated underground sucking on plant sap, right? In the 17th year these teenagers are going to come out of the earth by the billions if not trillions. They’re going to try to best everything on the planet that wants to eat them during this critical period of the nighttime when they’re just trying to grow up, they’re just trying to be adults, shed that skin, get their wings, go up into the treetops, escape their predators,” he says.“Once in the treetops, hey, it’s all going to be about romance. It’s only the males that sing. It’s going to be a big boy band up there as the males try to woo those females, try to convince that special someone that she should be the mother of his nymphs. He’s going to perform, sing songs. If she likes it, she’s going to click her wings. They’re going to have some wild sex in the treetop.“Then she’s going to move out to the small branches, lay their eggs. Then it’s all going to be over in a matter of weeks. They’re going to tumble down. They’re going to basically fertilize the very plants from which they were spawned. Six weeks later the tiny nymphs are going to tumble 80 feet from the treetops, bounce twice, burrow down into the soil, go back underground for another 17 years.”“This,” Raupp says, “is one of the craziest life cycles of any creature on the planet.”America is the only place in the world that has periodic cicadas that stay underground for either 13 or 17 years, says entomologist John Cooley of the University of Connecticut.The bugs only emerge in large numbers when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees. That’s happening earlier in the calendar in recent years because of climate change, says entomologist Gene Kritsky. Before 1950 they used to emerge at the end of May; now they’re coming out weeks earlier.Though there have been some early bugs In Maryland and Ohio, soil temperatures have been in the low 60s. So Raupp and other scientists believe the big emergence is days away — a week or two, max.Cicadas who come out early don’t survive. They’re quickly eaten by predators. Cicadas evolved a key survival technique: overwhelming numbers. There’s just too many of them to all get eaten when they all emerge at once, so some will survive and reproduce, Raupp says.This is not an invasion. The cicadas have been here the entire time, quietly feeding off tree roots underground, not asleep, just moving slowly waiting for their body clocks tell them it is time to come out and breed. They’ve been in America for millions of years, far longer than people.When they emerge, it gets noisy — 105 decibels noisy, like “a singles bar gone horribly, horribly wrong,” Cooley says. There are three distinct cicada species and each has its own mating song.They aren’t locusts and the only plants they damage are young trees, which can be netted. The year after a big batch of cicadas, trees actually do better because dead bugs serve as fertilizer, Kritsky says.People tend to be scared of the wrong insects, says University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum. The mosquito kills more people than any other animals because of malaria and other diseases. Yet some people really dread the cicada emergence, she said.“I think it’s the fact that they’re an inconvenience. Also, when they die in mass numbers they smell bad,” Berenbaum says. “They really disrupt our sense of order.”But others are fond of cicadas — and even munch on them, using recipes like those in a University of Maryland cookbook. And for scientists like Cooley, there is a real beauty in their life cycle.“This is a feel-good story, folks. It really is and it’s in a year we need more,” he says. “When they come out, it’s a great sign that forests are in good shape. All is as it is supposed to be.”___Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.







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