Nearly every year, somewhere in the eastern US, a brood of periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) emerges for the first time in 13 or 17 years. Each brood contains millions of individuals and it's probably one of the most spectacular displays that you would be lucky enough to experience. Before the episode, Steve and Bill traveled to Syracuse to see the tail end of Brood VII at a property owned by the Griffin Hill Farm Brewery. They recount that experience, explore the biology of cicadas, discuss why periodical cicadas live underground for so many years, and talk about the history and current status of brood VII. Enjoy!
Magic isn't real.
I'm also getting the feeling that cicadas were never used as a currency. The only reference that I'm finding is in the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Cicadas have been used in folk medicines, as religious and monetary symbols, and as an important source of food."
Magicicada.org - The site to find our about each periodical cicada brood (next emergence date, location, status, etc.)
Stories in Science (check out the graphic at the bottom of the page)
Cooley, J.R., Marshall, D.C. and Simon, C., 2004. The historical contraction of periodical cicada Brood VII (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada). Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 112(2), pp.198-204.
Cooley, J.R., Marshall, D.C. and Hill, K.B., 2018. A specialized fungal parasite (Massospora cicadina) hijacks the sexual signals of periodical cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada). Scientific reports, 8(1), p.1432.
Gilbert, C. and Klass, C., 2006. Decrease in geographic range of the finger lakes brood (Brood VII) of the periodical cicada (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada spp.). Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 114(1), pp.78-85.
Pechuman, L.L. and Dearborn, R., 1996. TB160: The Horse Flies and Deer Flies of Maine (Diptera, Tabanidae).
Liebhold, A.M., Bohne, M.J. and RL, L., 2013. Active Periodical Cicada Broods of the United States.
Sota, T., Yamamoto, S., Cooley, J.R., Hill, K.B., Simon, C. and Yoshimura, J., 2013. Independent divergence of 13-and 17-y life cycles among three periodical cicada lineages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, p.201220060.