Update: @Zi_kade on twitter (he’s a cicada expert in Japan) said that these deformities were caused by wind. Good news.
Radiation from the Fukushima reactor is possibly impacting cicadas in Japan. I say possibly, because I don’t know for sure, but the following articles infer that radiation is playing a part in cicada deformities and complications during eclosing (when they shed their nymph skins and become adults). Looks like about 20% of cicadas are affected in the study mentioned in the articles. It will be interesting to see how this story plays out. If the affected cicadas were in areas that flooded during the tsunami, it could be their bodies were damaged by water soaking the ground or flooding their tunnels.
Breaking News: Radiation has started attacking DNA.
Photos of possibly affected cicadas:
Use Google Translate http://translate.google.com/ if you can’t read Japanese.
Thank you for your taking up and readers’ comments.
Quoted article is subsequent to other article.
Now I wrote the summary and complements of four series of story which includes this one with answer for commenter in my mind.
As the SPEC of my blog doesn’t accommodate English version, linefeed is not correct, rather confusing. Please read patiently.
I agree that radiation is not the likely cause of these deformities. Radiation is used to sterilize insect for eradication of pest species such as Tephritidae fruit flies and pink bollworn of cotton. These “sterile male” control techniques depend on irradiated insects to be fully function and complete equally witl wild fertile males. This is not what you se when irradating insects.
Cheers Dan, sorry I don’t twit!
Twitter can be worth it, if you limit yourself to a single topic. I use it for just cicadas, and I have another account for work-related information.
Unlikely at present. We would have to know the normal attrition rates during ecclosion before this disaster to determine if rates had risen. Nymphs (for 2011 emergence) are 12cm underground at least, so who knows what radiation levels are here and the radiation would have to act preciptiously to invoke severe damage so quickly (carcinogen damage on DNA is cumulative- ask any smoker!). In addition, there are numerous other pysical factors that cam wreak havoc with this vulnerable stage, such as sudden wind gusts, thunderstorms and emerging too late at night and drying out in the morning sun before free of the exuviae.
A study may be useful as a project- where were these poor Graptopsaltria found?
Saisho on twitter said the deformities were caused by wind as you suggest. http://twitter.com/#!/Zi_kade/status/113011143127207936