Why Do Cicadas Emerge at Prime Intervals of 13 and 17 Years?

Mathematicians are fond of prime numbers. Infinitely numerous yet utterly unique, they play an integral role in number theory and a baffling one in such longstanding mysteries as Goldbach’s conjecture. Nature is partial to primes, as well, as demonstrated by the dramatic 13- and 17-year life cycles of periodic cicadas.

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