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These incredible insects take safety in numbers , emerging at precisely coordinated intervals of 13 or 17 years. This is a survival strategy known as "predator satiation". The key to this strategy is for the cicadas to emerge in such large numbers. For this to happen, the cicadas must maintain their tightly synchronised life cycles.

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It is thought that the primality of these life cycles could be the reason for the survival of these broods of Magicicada. Because the period of their emergence is indivisible, the chances of them appearing at the same time as another brood is greatly reduced. This prevents crossbreeding between broods, which could cause the cicadas to appear at a variety of intervals, vastly reducing their numbers at any given time and increasing the threat presented by predators. We want you to imagine an environment which contains four broods of cicadas: A, B, C and D.

Good luck! Sign in or register to comment. Depends on what "survival is compromised" means. Does it mean "has a lower chance of surviving"? If so, why not say so instead of using ambiguous language? Complain about this comment Comment number 1. Can you confirm if you can start a brood on a different year to it's emerging year, for example: "Brood D emerges every 2 years starting on year 1"? Complain about this comment Comment number 2. I'm just taking it to mean that you have to avoid any other broods, and assume that the pattern is the same ie the start year is the same as the cycle length.

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Can anyone confirm these rules? Complain about this comment Comment number 3. Actually, now I look at this, I can see that A and B will coincide in year 12 so would therefore both be 'compromised'. If we then knock out A and B thereafter assuming them dead , it gives us an answer that is NOT one of the options!

Why is this? Are we to assume that we can't let nature take its course for Broods A-C? Complain about this comment Comment number 4. If "compromised" is taken to mean dies out then the implied "counting from now" means all four broods have emerged in year 0 so none would be left. So the question is really asking "what is the shortest life cycle Brood D can have and still survive the next 40 years without being compromised?

Complain about this comment Comment number 5.

Killerbadger's question is relevant - otherwise brood D could emerge in year 39 with a 2 year cycle and survive to year Complain about this comment Comment number 6. I think the setup of the question makes it clear that the answer to Killerbadger's question is "no". In particular, if brood D has a 2-year cycle then it shouldn't be absent for the first 39 years.

Also Hypericus must be right, since as happeecow points out otherwise the correct answer would be one which does not appear. Complain about this comment Comment number 7. Complain about this comment Comment number 8.

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Complain about this comment Comment number 9. With repect to the largest dover sole caught, could Marcus du Sautoy sorry, not sure of correct title use the same normal distribution to predict how many negative weight dover sole have been caught? Complain about this comment Comment number This comment has been referred for further consideration. Do we know if the meeting and mating of broods A and B in year 12 won't "cause the cicadas to appear at a variety of intervals"?

If it does, the problem has a different solution. Oh dear, pattayalob, did you have to? Most of the words I'd use to describe you would be moderated out.

17 Year Periodical Cicadas - Planet Earth - BBC Earth

I agree with happeecow 4. A puzzle can be difficult but still be a good puzzle, but I really dislike puzzles that have vague or ambiguous statements or inconsistencies. I too identified an answer not on the list subject to A and B disappearing after year But if and B can appear in the same year and still survive why should D not equally survive even if comprimised? The methodology for working out this solution is clearly illustrated in episode 1. I think some people just try and look for added complications that just aren't there. If the question required us to use the methodology illustrated in the episode to arrive at a prime answer by treating year '0' as year dot, as it were, before which there were no cicadas then it could have been rephrased to say so.

Wouldn't the easiest way to find the solution be to gather all the numbers available in the 'Codebreaker' and choose the most fitting one? Its the ultimate answer, afterall. Records show that the bugs wriggle out of their shells and take wing when the temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit 18 degrees Celsius. The outbreak being branded the Great Cicada Invasion of is expected to start down in the Carolinas—furthest South, where it gets warm first—and then spread north to DC, Philadelphia and New York.

The exact timing clearly depends on the weather, but averages suggest that the swarming should start in late April or early May, and finish in the northeast sometime early June.

The Cicada Survival Guide (Volume 1) by M. Eigh

Entomologists expect the cicadas to show up all over the countryside, but also in woodsy suburbs—and even in urban parks. New York's Central Park is expected to get hit hard, for instance. They're fairly harmless to humans; cicadas don't have a bite or sting, to speak of, but do occasionally mistakes arms for branches. If one lands on your arm and tries to drain you of sap it'll hurt a little—but shouldn't actually do any harm.

But they can have a negative impact elsewhere: they can ruin crops and vegetation when females lay their eggs deep in branches, and that's even been known to wipe out local populations of other creatures like squirrels. Oh, and it might pay to have some earplugs handy in May and June: the buzz generated by a swarm can reach decibels , which is about the same noise level as a loud rock show.

Periodical cicadas

No, really: the short adult life of a cicada means that there's a desperate rush for all the creatures to get busy and procreate. To woo their female companions , male cicadas create a loud noise using part of their body called "tymbals"—complex organs consisting of ribs and membranes, which produce a clicking sound as they buckle back and forth.

The resulting, um, song, is loud enough to permanently damage human hearing—so it pays to keep your distance. Or if you're keen to get rid of the things, consider eating them: in some countries, cicada are considered a delicacy. Image by Bruce Marlin under Creative Commons license. The A. Jamie Condliffe. Share This Story. Club TV Club. The Root The Grapevine.