Thursday, May 26, 2011

13 Year-Old Bugs

I woke to a muffled roar yesterday. Was a neighbor doing some sort of early morning home improvement? Or was a traffic helicopter hovering nearby? When I stepped outside with Ellie to wait for her bus I realized the source of the noise: cicadas.

Last night I took the dog outside and quickly revised my plan. I waited for her indoors, watching from a comfortable distance behind glass. No matter how carefully I watched my footing I couldn't step anywhere on our front porch or driveway without crunching cicadas: dead, alive, nymphs, adults, and beasties in transition.

Every day this week I've been convinced we've hit the peak of cicada season, only to be surprised the next morning.

Today I opened the shades to see the air between my house and my neighbor's thick with the things, flying everywhere.

I'm not afraid of cicadas. They're big and ugly and noisy, but they're essentially harmless to people, pets, and plants. But things are getting a bit crazy here. I don't mind seeing a few empty insect husks clinging to tree bark.

But we have thousands of them and they're everywhere. These bugs are as big as my thumb. They move unpredictably. Yesterday I found one in the car, hanging out on Teddy's baby sling. Today I found one chilling on his car seat, just above his head. They have the creepiest bright red eyes. I'm not precisely afraid of them, but I'm still a little uncomfortable walking over a bunch of them while wearing a skirt.

And I'm pretty tired of carrying Ada to and from the car. She can't stand our cicadas. She woke up in fear twice last night and she can explain exactly why. She understands the life cycle of these bugs; she knows they can't hurt her. "But those red eyes!" It's hard to argue with that since I agree. Ellie just flicks the bugs aside when they get in her way.

Paul goes out twice a day to sweep them off the walk. This afternoon he pulled out the leaf blower and spent 20 minutes delousing our porch. (There were at least 50 mature bugs hanging on the post just outside the front door.) Then the storms rolled in. Ada suggested that perhaps a tornado could whip away the insects.

I see fewer out tonight than last. Perhaps we really have crested the peak of cicada season this time . . .



Credit for the first picture (Red Eyes) goes to my brother-in-law, Rob Monroe. The other shots are Paul's.

7 comments:

RobMonroe said...

Ours are all up the sidewalk, an on Tuesday we noticed that the grass was moving without the wind blowing. Turns out there is what would amount to a nest - thousands of them on our tiny patch of grass...

Becca said...

Wow! I thought cicadas were only supposed to come out in force like that every 21 years or something...

Great shot, Rob!! I've never seen anything like that, just the adults.

(btw, congrats to Ellie on 2 weeks dry!!)

Sarahlynn said...

Boiling up from where they've been living on deeply buried tree roots sucking sap for 13 or 17 years (depending on the variety of cicada)...

Ada and I watched David Attenborough.

Becca, last night for us was . . . not so good!

Kathy G said...

We have a few cicadas, but since our neighborhood's only about 25 years old, the trees were pretty small the last time. I gotta think that makes a difference.

Sarahlynn said...

Insects are one of the very few reasons I don't always love our "mature landscaping!" (We live in a 60+ year-old neighborhood with huge trees.)

HiddenChicken said...

Seeing your post made me look up cicadas. Turns out what I thought was a carpenter bee hive was actually a large honeycomb of cicada towers in our backyard! Apparently a bunch of them burrowed out of our beds in the back. Ick, ick, ick.

Sarahlynn said...

With our wood siding we get carpenter bees, too. Once I told Ada that they (the males that fly around) don't have stingers she became much more tolerant of their presence. But nothing can alleviate her concerns about the cicadas. Because they're gross and they're everywhere and those EYES.

I've never heard of a cicada tower. It sounds ghastly.