The Return of the Cicadas

Oh, boy did we have fun this year! For the first time in 17 years, the 17-Year-Cicada returned to visit us. Or rather, their offspring did. And boy did they fly and buzz!

The first time I saw them flying, I was driving along the highway, which was wooded on either side. There were large reddish-orange things flying around, not really too well, I thought. I didn't know at first what they were - remember, I'm doing around 55 here - and then I remembered that the cicadas were coming. It was interesting to drive in the midst of coppery fairy-like things flying - again, remember, things look differently when you're doing 55 - somewhat magical.

I had a good time watching my neighbors' kids play with them. What they usually did was stare at them - I'm not sure if with fascination or horror - and then poke sticks at them. This is while the cicadas were crawling along the sidewalks or the parking lots. None of the kids were really brave enough to pick them up in their hands. Neither were their moms.

The birds had a great feast, too. For some strange reason, they never seemed to eat the entire insect. Often, they left the head and thorax to continue wiggling without the abdomen. Or maybe, the thorax and abdomen remained and the head was eaten. Remember, legs are on the thoractic segments of the insects. Do birds avoid wiggling legs?

Now what's left is cicada damage to young trees. I posted a photo for all to see. Notice the dead branch tips. The trees won't die from this. How about counting the total dead leaves and live ones? Not much real leaf death, right? Eventually the dead branches will fall off on their own and a year later, no one will know that there were dead branches there a year ago. So when you see these signs, think, "aha, cicadas were here".


© Iris H. Mars, 2004.