When my husband and I took a walk a couple of weeks ago alongside some woods near our house, we heard an eerie, shrill chorus that one could imagine coming from outer space aliens. Insects having diaphanous wings and red, bulging eyes covered the trees. Lucky us! It’s our year to host the seventeen year cicadas.
Our cicadas have spent the last seventeen years deep in the ground feeding on the sap of tree roots. A couple of weeks ago, these nymphs dug their way out of the ground and climbed onto tree trunks. Within an hour of latching onto the bark, they molted out of their exoskeletons and emerged with a new pair of wings. This is when the noise began. The male cicadas rubbed shell-like drums against their abdomens to produce a deafening mating call. During their noisiest time, mid-morning to mid-afternoon, these sounds reach from 85- 90 decibels which is comparable to a lawn mower.
The adult cicada lives for six weeks during which it mates, lays eggs on tree twigs, and dies. About six weeks after the adult dies, the newly hatched nymphs will move from the trees to burrow into the ground and remain for seventeen years.
I’m not particularly fond of these creatures…they creep me out. Raccoons, skunks, turkeys, crows, and even our cat will eat them. Well, Kitty only ate one, and she wrinkled up her nose at the crunch. She might eat another one if I pour cream of mushroom soup over it.
The invasion of the cicadas is another reminder to me that Nature is not only beautiful and fascinating, but also strange, very strange.