“Every time I see them, I scrunch my shoulders and feel weird inside. They freak me out! They’re gross!”
Best quote award goes to my daughter Hannah, who was a teenager in 2013, the last time Brood X cicadas created a stir (of wings) in the Garden State.
Yes, our dog Lucy thought they made tasty treats. Yes, that’s me holding an adult cicada. No, no one else in my family thought they were cool.
Repost: Cicada City Part 1
One of my favorite summer nighttime sounds is the collective hum of cicadas. They start somewhere at the end of June and continue, if it’s warm enough, into October. I make a mental note the night I don’t hear them anymore. Then, I know winter’s on its way.
This year, a different cicada has come out of its 17-year hibernation. If you haven’t heard of the periodical Brood II cicadas, I’m afraid you’ve either been living under a rock or under the ground as a separate cicada species. The, ummm, buzz about the buzz started before the first cicada wriggled out of a 1/4 “diameter hole in the ground. The bugaboo about these bugs reached an all-time high about the same time a rash of little holes covered my yard. It looked like someone had aerated the ground. Ohhh, I guess someone did!
Hon, guess what came next? A condition I’m calling “Cicada Hysteria!” In fact, plenty of people are still afflicted with “Cicada Hysteria” since the insects are still underfoot, climbing trees, flying around and altogether creating a modern day horror movie. Take Teenage Daughter #1. Here’s what she has to say about them, “Every time I see them, I scrunch my shoulders and feel weird inside. They freak me out! They’re gross!”
Unlike Teenage Daughter #1, Teenage Daughter #2 is indifferent, and Tween Daughter thinks they’re cool. From afar. She doesn’t mind looking at them from a safe distance, but she’s not about to let a six-legged cidada crawl on her arm.
Hon, guess who let a six-legged cicada crawl on her arm? You got it. I bonded with Little Miss Cicada! LMC hung out on in my hands for a half hour. LMC wasn’t trapped, tied down or otherwise constrained. She hung out of her own free will. I think we were equally fascinated with each other.
She allowed me to touch her hard shell and peer into the black pupils in the middle of her red eyes. The antennas under her eyes were short and black. She picked up her leg and “waved” to me and Tween Daughter. Really! Her legs were sticky in an “I can cling to bark” kind-of-way. I have no idea what LMC was thinking. Do cicadas think? If they do, maybe she was thinking, “Please scratch my shell. It’s really itchy when it first comes out of its exoskeleton!”
I placed her on the side of a Tulip tree, and now I listen for her loud buzz when I water the flowers, walk Lucy and drive through town. I hope that as soon as the song of the Brood II cicadas dies down, the annual cicadas that sing in the night return.
Then I’ll sit outside at dusk, watching the trees turn into silhouettes against the indigo sky. The bats will flit about catching mosquitoes, the fireflies will wink to each other and the screech owls will whistle and hoot. The perfect, warm temperature of summer nights will fill me up…with hope and happiness and satisfaction.