Saturday, July 23, 2016

Copperhead Feeding Behavior

In summertime, it's possible that you might encounter large numbers of Copperheads feeding on baby cicada insects as they emerge from the roots of trees.

Each summer, usually beginning around the first of June and continuing into September, cicada larvae that have spent their developmental period burrowed in the soil around the tree roots on which they feed, begin emerging for their metamorphosis into adults.

The larvae, looking like hump-backed beetles, begin digging their way to the surface around dusk. They emerge from the ground, crawl to the nearest vertical structure (usually a tree), climb a foot or two up the trunk, their "shell" splits along its back and the adult cicada works its way out.

Some of the highest-volume movements of cicada larvae are to large oak trees on lawns. These nocturnal emergences of cicada larvae are like the opening of an all-you-can-eat dinner for some wildlife. Yellow-crowned night herons are one of the species that regularly prey on emerging cicada larvae. Copperheads are another. And when the cicada dinner bell rings, it can draw a copper-colored, fanged crowd.

Amazing that this wasn't known before now. There's still plenty to learn in this old world of ours.

Thanks to Brock at Free North Carolina for linking it.

1 comment:

Old NFO said...

Yep, copperheads WILL feed on pretty much anything...