A reader adds to this post:
Predator satiation – or predator swamping, as it is also called – is hardly confined to cicadas and salmon. It is a common strategy of prey animals. The females in caribou herds, which are shadowed by wolf packs, will all drop their calves within a three-day period. It’s a feast for the wolves, but a short one. Far more calves survive than would if the birthing went on for two or three months. Passenger pigeons, which had only one chick at a time, used to gather to nest in astounding groups of two hundred fifty million birds, attracting predators from miles around. The babies would hatch all at about the same time, providing a lavish but short feast for the predators. It worked well for them until they encountered the most voracious and determined predators of all – us. Studies have suggested that women living in groups tend to synchronize their menstrual periods. That could be a leftover from a time when our own ancestors engaged in predator swamping.
By the way, I wonder if people will ever stop writing nonsense like “it [the cicada species] intends for a huge percentage of its population to be eaten.” It intends no such thing, not having the brainpower to plot out the future. It is simply the course the species has taken, which happened to be successful. Other cicadas took a different course and are no longer with us.