Oh the Locusts Sang, Then They Dropped Dead

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Science  26 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5701, pp. 1488-1489
DOI: 10.1126/science.1106582

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Seventeen-year cicadas of the species Magicicada spend most of their lives underground feeding on xylem from the roots of trees. But every 17 years they emerge in vast numbers, mate, lay eggs, and die. In their Perspective, Ostfeld and Keesing discuss a new study (Yang) demonstrating that the cicada carcasses provide a rich source of nitrogen, which is released by soil microbes and results in an increase in the nitrogen content and seed size of American bellflowers, an understory plant.