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Submission + - Bug crashes Japanese communications (

tam writes: "But in this case it's a literal bug.

The bug is a big black cicada that's been bringing down Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. in the last few months by laying eggs in the company's fiber optic cables instead of the insect's usual nests in dead trees. Thousands of customers have complained to communications giant NTT about service interruptions. The company reports that most have been due to cicada damage in cables between main lines and people's homes.

Technology to the rescue of technology. NTT now says it will sell cables coated with polyurethane that resembles living tree bark. This cicada species is expected to avoid the new cables because it does not lay its eggs in living trees.

There are about 3,000 cicada species around the world. Many appear every year to punctuate summer evenings with their earsplitting love songs. But some, the periodical cicadas, lead long bizarre lives, most spent underground. They emerge only after 13 or 17 years, mate, lay eggs, and die within a few weeks. A big noisy brood emerged on time in the East in 2004. This year, it's the Midwest's turn: icadas-photogallery,0,7173661.photogallery
Here's a Japanese cicada site (English version):

One of the many puzzles about periodical cicadas is why their life cycles are prime numbers. There are several theories, and I wrote about them (and other cicada questions) in Scientific American. 8-6623-10A9-A47783414B7F0000&sc=I100322

Oh, and it's pronounced sick-AID-ah."

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