Thursday, April 15, 2004

Museum makes much of cicada invasion

By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Gene Kritsky, College of Mount St. Joseph professor of biology and an authority on periodical cicadas, holds a model of an adult cicada that's about 10 times normal size.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MICHAEL E. KEATING
WEST END - Soon, the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal will be crawling with bugs.

It's all part of Cicada Xtravaganza, an exhibit that opens Saturday as shelter from the Brood X swarm.

Nearly 5 billion of the 17-year periodical cicadas now lurk beneath Cincinnati's surface and are expected to emerge around May 21.

Gene Kritsky, the Indiana Jones of cicadas, instituted the exhibit. The adjunct curator of entomology at the Museum Center has traveled the world to learn about and experiment on the noisy, red-eyed creatures, which he calls "close, personal friends."

Through the exhibit, Kritsky hopes people will see how cicadas can be a link to the past.

Hear cicadas:
Cicada chorus
Calling song

Cicada photos:
• Send us your cicada photos

Cicada songfest
• Hear songs from new cicada CD

• Tell us what you think of the cicadas

Cicada Web sites
University of Michigan cicada page
More cicada audio, photos, scientific information and more
Cicada Mania
General resource and news site
Periodical cicadas
Information on Ohio cicadas, including maps, lifecycles and recipes.
"Cicadas are like living time capsules. When you talk to someone about the time the cicadas emerged, it immediately brings back memories," said Kritsky, professor of biology at the College of Mount St. Joseph. "And now, people will remember 2004."

"Cicada Central," where visitors can see large-scale models, samples of the species found in our area and cicadas collected from previous insect epidemics, will be in the Museum of Natural History and Science. Part of the exhibit will have an interactive computer that will teach how to determine the insects' gender.

A cultural display will show the bugs in art, medicine and folklore. For example, a jade cicada carving on display is a reminder of a popular custom during the Han dynasty in China . when figurines of cicadas, a symbol of rebirth, were placed over the mouths of the dead.

The Cincinnati History Museum display will include cicada objects from as long ago as the 1800s. An interactive display will detail how American Indians were the first to observe periodical cicadas, as well as their use of the bugs for food.

The Cinergy Children's Museum will also be abuzz with insect-related activities during May and June, like Budding Scientists and Young at Art programs.

And the biggest cicada of all will emerge May 27 through June 5. A giant cicada sculpture, created by artist David Dotson, will flaunt a 10-foot wingspan in the rotunda May 27 through June 5.


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