And I got a cicada, baby

Check it out – a collaborative cicada-spotting map!
Alright, I know I’m jumping on a bandwagon that’s been moving for quite a while, but I’ve been hoping to see cicadas for a couple of weeks now, and I finally saw my first one today. And my second. And my third fourth fifth sixth…nth. Unfortunately, the first one was on my windshield – I hit it as I was driving to work this morning. But, they are alive and everywhere here (in Lincolnshire), and they’re loud! I mean plane-taking-off loud.

I’m so excited I’m beside myself. I’ve seen them flying, I’ve seen them crawling. I’ve seen them on trees, in the grass, on windows, on the pavement. I’ve seen them squashed by tire tracks and feet. Best of all, I’ve seen them mating. (Go Brood XIII!)

I was walking from the parking lot to the building I’m working in, and there were three people stooping down to pick them up, examine them, talk about them. It’s fun to see adults acting like kids (i.e. thinking bugs are cool). What is it about cicadas that make them different from other bugs? Their novelty? The weirdness of their lifecycles? The fact that they’re so big you could probably put a leash on them? The fact that being so big and slow and stupid, it is much less likely that they’ll crawl in your ear or nose without you knowing? That they don’t bite? That they taste good?

Speaking of…do they really taste THAT good? The news is obsessed with showing people eating cicadas. And of course, for each story on the subject, whoever is reporting on other people eating cicadas inevitably has to eat one. I find that fascinating. I’ve picked them up, but I will not eat them. (“Oh, look – here are a bunch of bugs that only come out once every 17 years – let’s eat them!” just seems like a weird first instinct to have.)

As I was walking with a few people from one meeting to the next, one woman commented, ‘what’s the point? why do they even exist if they only live for a few weeks? what good do they do?’ Ahh, but they do so much. They overwhelm us with their life force. They pique our curiosity and imagination.  (I’m guessing they benefit our ecosystem somehow, too, but I don’t know how.) Ultimately, they boil it down to the essentials – you’re born. you mate. you die. All the rest is just fluff , isn’t it?


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