If You Hear a Bunch of Cicadas, There are Probably Copperheads Nearby
Ahh, the sounds of Spring in East Texas, birds chirping, an afternoon breeze blowing through the leaves, cicadas engaging in a nightly tune. Spring also brings some animals out of their winter sleep. Some of those animals include snakes, in particular copperheads. Recently researchers discovered a new feeding pattern for our slithering friend.
At some point in our lives, we've run into a copperhead while enjoying the outdoors. But recently, researchers have discovered a new feeding pattern for the snake. According to the Houston Chronicle, reports have come in of gatherings of twenty or so copperheads around oak and other large trees. The gatherings happen starting at dusk till around midnight.
The reason...they are feeding on cicadas.
Starting around June 1 until the end of September, cicada larvae begin making their way from their underground nest to shed their shell. You know, those empty shells you find stuck on trees, the side of your house and other places with the split on top. That's a hatched cicada.
With this migration, it becomes like a buffet for the copperheads as they just hang out and feed on the unlucky few that can't make it past their strikes. When the cicadas have finished coming to the surface, the snakes go about their business.
So why is this new? According to the Houston Chronicle report, herpetologists only discovered this behavior a few years ago. It has just gone unnoticed because it happens at night in spots we normally wouldn't be when the sun goes down.
Copperhead venom has been shown to fight certain cancers, including breast cancer.