Cicadas, Start Your Engines!

As Linda and I sat out on our new back deck July 4th, it was hot but not intolerable thanks to a couple of ice cold adult beverages.  It was quiet and peaceful because our neighbors, who often opt to mow when we’re sitting outside, must have been off celebrating Independence day by a lake somewhere. Anyway it was downright pleasant until, that is, a familiar and annoying sound erupted from the abundant neighborhood trees.

Linda absolutely loves the summertime. In fact, she starts fretting about it being over on the very first day it begins because the summer solstice means that days will start getting shorter again and before you know’ll be time to unpack the bulk knit sweaters and start planning Christmas dinner.
For me, the sure sign we’ve turned the corner on the season is when we can no longer sit out on the deck in the evening without yelling at each other.It’s not that we’re fighting. It’s because those  #&*%@ cicadas are back buzzing away in the treetops so loudly you can’t hear yourself think much less carry on a conversation.cicada Aww. Innee cute? A dog-day cicada now appearing with a cast of thousands in a tree near you.

Cicadas are apparently quite a freak of nature in that some species stay buried in the ground for up to 17 years before arising out of the earth in mass to annoy the planet.We have mostly dog-day cicadas around here which show up annually when the serious heat sets in.  Actually, it’s only the boy cicadas that make all the racket. And, as you might suspect, it all has to do with sex.
For some reason, God, in His infinite wisdom, created these creatures with hollow chambers next to their bellies that when compressed back and forth sounds something like the noise you make by pushing down on the top of an empty pop can..only multiplied a hundred  times a second.
The idea is to get the attention of girl cicadas…to lure them over for dinner, dancing and a little roll in the tree leaves. When you get thousands of these sex starved cicadas all screaching out their love songs at once, it’s louder than an Air National Guard F-16 fly-over on the back nine of Elmwood.
When I played drums with Mogen’s Heroes band, we had to crank up the volume each time we performed the August concerts at McKennan Park because of competition from millions of those blasted bugs.
It turns out, though, that not everyone hates them. In fact, there are actually entire web sites devoted to cicadas. Many people find their constant buzz to be soothing rather than excruciating and their appearance to be beautiful rather than like a monster from a cheap Japanese horror movie.
Some cultures also find them delicious and an excellent source of protein. Okay, that’s really disgusting but I almost think I’d rather eat a cicada than have to listen to one.
I wonder if they’re on the Atkins diet.

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  1. Doug, I hate them too! We sit at the outdoor band concerts and sometimes they are so noisy you have trouble listening to the music! I guess when you first hear them it means 6 weeks until the first frost! I hope that is wrong!!

  2. You say they compress hollow chambers next to their bellies. That sounds like a description of a group of accordion players! Uh one and uh two!

  3. Hollow chambers next to their belly….compressed. Hmmm…sounds like the all have accordions!!

  4. Today Steve pulled up his ANCHOR and is sailing South where he will drop is anchor for a his new life. Lake Hendicks will miss Steve.


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